Aston, Pa. - The Nittany Lions continued conference play on Thursday night, traveling to the Maplezone Sports Complex to face Penn State Brandywine in a pair of PSUAC baseball matchups. Amid a fine pitching performance in game one, Hazleton garnered just four hits in the contest, folding 2-1 in the final inning of play. Brandywine carried the momentum into game two and shut down the Hazleton offense again, racking up 10 runs to close out the first half of the series with a 10-0, five inning victory claiming the first two games of the series.
Game one: Penn State Hazleton 1, Penn State Brandywine 2 - Final, 7 Innings
Nearly all of the action came late in this one. Both squads were stymied by quality pitching and defense leading to a 0-0 stalemate through five innings. Brandywine cracked the scored board first, claiming a 1-0 advantage in the bottom of the sixth inning after a pair of walks left trouble on the bases with one out in the frame. A single by Brandywine's Mike DeGirolamo drove in the go ahead run from second base but Hazleton retired the next two hitters to keep the game within reach. With just three outs left in their pocket, the pressure was on and senior Jacob Taschler (Palmerton, Pa.) came through with a lead off hit. Taschler was relieved by a speedier runner, sophomore Shea Morgan (Pine Grove, Pa.) who used the next to at bats to advance to third base and with two outs in the inning, the Brandywine defense cracked, allowing the tying run to score on an fielding error in the infield. Hazleton nearly pushed the winning run across the plate thanks in part to a second Brandywine error in the inning, but a clutch strikeout by the pitching staff retired the side and put the ball back in Brandywine's court. Unfortunately for the Lions, a lead off walk in the top of the seventh would come back to bite them. Two hitters later, Brandywine found themselves in prime position with runners at second and third base with one out in the inning, and promptly singled in the walk off run on a base hit by Cam Baughman to win the game 2-1.
Freshman Eli Tyrrell (Halifax, Pa.) pitched extremely well through the first five innings of play. The first year hurler posted zeros on the board in each of the first five innings, allowing just five total base runners over that stretch of play. Three walks and two hits in the final two frames spelled defeat for the rookie but a solid outing none the less as Tyrrell finished the day throwing 6 and third innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits with five walks and five strikeouts.
Game two: Penn State Hazleton 0, Penn State Brandywine 10 - Final, 5 Innings
The second game of the evening started out as a carbon copy of game one, but the wheels would fall off the wagon midway through the game for the Hazleton defense. After three and half scoreless innings from Hazleton senior Mark Kokinda (Lansford, Pa.), Brandywine had registered just two base runners in the contest but a lead off walk in the bottom of the fourth changed the dynamics of the game. Brandywine followed the walk with three straight hits to plate the first two runs of the game. Kokinda and the defense battle back to get the next two hitters out but Brandywine would wind up sending seven more batters to the plate. In the end, Brandyinw racked up 10 runs in the inning, using eight hits, two errors and a pair of walks from Kokinda to blow the game open and put Hazleton behind the eight ball heading into the fifth frame. Needing a run to keep hope alive, Hazleton failed to get a base runner in the top of the fifth as Brandywine retired the side in order to close out game two via the mercy rule.
Kokinda's day ended on a sour note with the 10 spot in the fourth inning but the senior finished with a line of four earned runs on 10 hits, three walks and five strikeouts to his credit. Hazleton earned just four base runners in the game, coming on three hits from sophomores Jared Marykwas (Jim Thorpe, Pa.), Jared Joyce (Jim Thorpe, Pa.) and Eddie Wess (East Stroudsburg, Pa.).
Next up: The Lions will resume their series with Penn State Brandywine on Sunday, April 2 when Brandywine travels north to face the Hazleton squad. The two teams will square off at 12:00 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. at the North Berwick baseball field in Berwick, Pa.