Playoff Warmup: Flyers-Penguins Gameday Storylines

Playoff Warmup: Flyers-Penguins Gameday Storylines

The Flyers are in Pittsburgh today for the first of two remaining games against their likely opening round playoff opponent. The NHL's system of seeding division leaders 1-2-3 has rendered much of the final month somewhat stagnant in terms of seedings, though there is still a chance the Flyers could move up or down. They've now played as many games as Pittsburgh and are just three points back. 
Considering the Flyers have been better on the road and have played well in the Consol Energy Center, there may not be a whole lot of difference between the four and five seeds. But, there is certainly a tone to be set in these two matchups. The Pens are once again the league's darlings, and to be honest, they've earned it this season. 
Just not against the Flyers, so far. Pittsburgh has beaten Philadelphia only once in four contests this season. They'll be motivated to even the series before starting the one that matters. 

Whooooose Hoooouuuse?Sergei Bobrovsky survived a shaky start against Ottawa as the Flyers scraped their way to a point yesterday. Bob's had the Penguins' number since his first NHL start, when he was the surprise netminder in last season's opener. His name will forever be etched on the wall of the Consol Energy Center, as he christened the building with a Flyers win on its opening night. 
Bob has started all four games the Flyers have played in the Penguins' new igloo, and he's won each of them. 
Max & SidAdam Kimelman has a good story on Max Talbot's first ever game against Sidney Crosby. The two were very good friends while teammates, and Max is looking forward to playing against the player he calls the best in the world. 
The checking line's battle against the top scoring lines of Pittsburgh should go a long way toward dictating today's outcome. If there's a reason to play for home-ice advantage, it's getting the second change against Sid, Geno & Co. 
Recent HistoryThe Pens are likely still smarting from Scott Hartnell's final-second OT winner in a game they'd mostly dominated. They're coming off a 5-3 win over a desperate Buffalo squad, but also two straight 5-3 losses to the Islanders. Yesterday's Flyers opponent drubbed them 8-4 last weekend. 
Matinee MessesI've previously written how much I love a good NHL matinee game. The Flyers have absolutely broken me of this enjoyment. They're simply awful when the sun is out. Can they reverse that trend before the postseason begins and bears some nooners that truly matter?
12:30 start today on NBC. 

West Chester baseball wins Atlantic Regional, moves on to national championship tourney

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Photo credit: Ed Mailliard

West Chester baseball wins Atlantic Regional, moves on to national championship tourney

West Chester University baseball is moving on to the 2017 NCAA National Championships.

The Golden Rams won the Division II Atlantic Regional Final on Monday with a 12-7 decision over Winston-Salem State at Russell Diethrick Park.

Sophomore first baseman Jared Melone reached base six times, going 5 for 5 with a walk and four RBIs, while shortstop Nick Ward scored four runs and collected three hits to help West Chester capture its fourth regional title in program history.

Senior right-hander Josh McClain picked up the win in relief with three innings of one-run ball, as the Golden Rams scored five in the eighth inning to win their first regional crown since 2012, the year they won the national championship. 

West Chester is now 40-11 overall and will open national championship tournament play on Saturday at 3 p.m. against North Georgia in Grand Prairie, Texas.

For more details, see below.

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 1

Instant Replay: Rockies 8, Phillies 1

BOX SCORE

The Phillies' offense was quiet again in an 8-1 loss to the Colorado Rockies on Monday night.

The Phillies had just three hits. They mustered just three in losing, 1-0, at Pittsburgh on Sunday.

The loss was the Phillies' 18th in the last 22 games. They have been outscored 126-89 over that span.

The Phils are 15-27.

Colorado's 29-17 record is the best in the National League.

Starting pitching report
Jerad Eickhoff gave up nine hits and four runs over six innings. Four of the hits that Eickhoff allowed came in the third inning when the Rockies scored three times. He did not walk a batter and struck out four.

Eickhoff is 0-5 with a 4.70 ERA in nine starts.

Colorado rookie Jeff Hoffman, called up from Triple A earlier in the day, was impressive in the eighth start of his big-league career. Make that very impressive. He scattered three hits and a run over seven walk-free innings and struck out seven.

Hoffman, a 24-year-old product of East Carolina University, was a first-round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays in 2014, going ninth overall, two picks behind Aaron Nola. He was dealt to the Rockies in the trade that sent shortstop Troy Tulowitzki to the Jays.

Bullpen report
Pat Neshek pitched a scoreless seventh inning and struck out two.

Scott Oberg, Mike Dunn and Jake McGee closed out the Phillies.

At the plate
The Phils were out-hit, 13-3.

Aaron Altherr had a pair of doubles against Hoffman. He scored the Phillies' lone run on a hit by Tommy Joseph in the fourth.

Charlie Blackmon flared a two-run double to left to score the Rockies' first two runs in the third. DJ LeMahieu followed with an RBI single. Carlos Gonzalez doubled, moved to second on a hit by Mark Reynolds and scored the Rockies' fourth run on a line-drive sacrifice fly by Gerardo Parra in sixth.

The Rockies blew the game open with four runs in the top of the ninth. Nolan Arenado highlighted things with a two-run homer off Luis Garcia.

In the field
First baseman Joseph made a costly error in the ninth.

Lineup stuff
Michael Saunders, who opened the season hitting fifth, was dropped to eighth in the batting order. "He's not hitting," manager Pete Mackanin said in explaining the move. Saunders entered the game on an 0-for-11 skid, hitting just .232. He went 0 for 3 to extend his hitless streak to 14 at-bats.

Up next
The series continues on Tuesday night. Zach Eflin (0-1, 4.25) opposes Colorado right-hander German Marquez (2-2, 4.34).