Playoff matchups set as Keystone pursues United East title

The Keystone College baseball team at least knows the route it has to take in pursuit of its 19th straight conference championship in the coming weeks.

The top-seeded Giants (27-11 overall, 16-2 United East) will face fourth-seeded Rosemont at noon on Friday at Christy Mathewson Field in the first game of the United East Conference Skye Division championship series. The other game Friday will feature third-seeded Wilson against second-seeded Cairn.

The division champion will be decided in a double-elimination format, with three games set in La Plume for Saturday and the title winner decided Sunday.

Starting May 10, the winner of the Skye Division playoff will host the winner of the Bolt Division double-elimination tournament — which also starts Friday — in a three-game series to determine the United East’s automatic qualifying bid to the NCAA Division III Baseball Tournament. That means, if Keystone wins the division this weekend, the Giants can go after their 19th consecutive conference title at Christy Mathewson Field.

Penn State-Harrisburg, the No. 22 team in the most recent Top 25 poll, is the top seed in the Bolt Division. The Lions handed Keystone a doubleheader sweep in a nonconference matchup in La Plume on April 6. But, the Giants won 11 of their next 14, including a sweep of their three-game set against Rosemont last weekend.

Royal crush

Like the Giants, the University of Scranton has been hot with the conference tournament looming.

The Royals (26-9, 15-7 Landmark Conference) have won eight of their last 10 after sweeping Moravian last weekend at Volpe Field. They outscored the Greyhouds 30-10 in the three-game set, with first baseman John Zarnowski going 8 for 12 with a double, home run and nine RBIs.

The recent surge has the Royals currently sitting as the No. 3 seed in the Landmark Conference standings with two more games to play this week — at Wilkes on Tuesday and what could be a key road battle Friday against one of the two teams currently tied atop the standings, Catholic University. The Royals are just a game behind both the Cardinals and the team with which they are tied for first place, Elizabethtown.

The Landmark playoffs being May 7 with a play-in game between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds before the final four begin a tournament May 10 at Volpe Field.