Drifton, Pa. - The Lady Lions took command of both ends of Thursday's double-header with fellow unbeaten Penn State University Athletic Conference rival Penn State Brandywine, but late rallies from the visitors made for two exciting finishes in the teams' first meeting of 2017. Sophomore Vanessa Michael (Bloomsburg, Pa.) tacked on two insurance runs that helped stave off a final inning rally by Brandywine in game one as Hazleton took the opener by the score of 7-5. Hazleton would hold a five run cushion through five innings of action in the second end, but Brandywine's late-inning offensive effort stole a potential two-game sweep for the Lady Lions who came up empty in their final two at bats, falling 7-6 to the visitors.
Game 1: Penn State Hazleton 7, Penn State Brandywine 5
Michael led the Lady Lions with a 3-for-4 performance in game one, totaling three RBI and one run scored. Freshman Erin Schmick (Macungie, Pa.) went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a run scored in the first inning, while sophomore Noelle Bergerstock (Muncy, Pa.) added an RBI in a 1-for-2 effort at the plate.
Sophomore Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) got the job done on offense and from the circle. The sophomore finished 2-for-4 at the dish with a two-run blast in the second frame, adding her sixth win of the season from the rubber. Varela tossed the complete game for Hazleton, allowing five runs on 10 hits while striking out five Brandywine hitters.
Brandywine's Julia Allman proved trouble for Varela, offering up a 3-for-3, three RBI perfomance to lead all Brandywine hitters. Ariana Segich finished 2-for-3 with a pair of runs scored while Nikki Velez was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate, scoring twice off Allman RBI knocks.
Moments that Mattered
Hazleton chips away for a quick 3-0 lead in the first as Michael, Schmick and Bergerstock connect to drive in runs.
Nursing a 5-2 advantage, Michael extends Hazleton's cushion with a solo home run in the fifth and an RBI single in the bottom half of the sixth inning.
Facing a five run deficit, Brandywine responds with four consecutive singles to start off the final inning that included RBI knocks from Allman and Katie DeStefano. A third run scores on a fielder's choice, leaving runners at first and second with no one out, but Varela grinds from the circle, retiring the next three Brandywine hitters to squash the rally and earn the win.
Game 2: Penn State Brandywine 7, Penn State Hazleton 6
Hitting in the DH spot, Varela goes perfect in game two, finishing 3-for-3 with an RBI and two runs scored while freshman Sarah Coolbaugh (Harding, Pa.) gives the Lady Lion offense a lift, blasting a grand slam in first inning.
Freshman Mary Kate Penczkowski (Hanover, Pa.) allows just six hits and three earned runs to Brandywine hitters, but five walks and a slew of Lady Lion miscues spoil the otherwise fine performance for the Hazleton hurler.
Alexa Anderson totaled two hits in four tries to lead the Brandywine hitting efforts. Nikki Velez finished 1-for-3 with an RBI and run scored while Maddie Malfara and Arianna Segich both added a pair of Brandywine RBI's.
Maura Moser ends the game as the winning pitcher, settling in with the late lead after a rough start to the game. In seven innings of work, Moser allows four earned runs on seven hits and one walk, striking out six in the winning performance.
Moments that Mattered
Coolbaugh's first inning grand slam erases and early 1-0 lead for Brandywine. Hazleton goes on to extend their lead with RBI singles from Varela and Schmick to post a 6-1 cushion through five innings of play.
The sixth inning proves disastrous for the Lady Lions who allow six Brandywine scores on just one clean hit, a two RBI single by Segich. A pair of walks and five errors plague the Hazleton defense as Brandywine pulls ahead for the late 7-6 lead.
Working with a lead for the first time since the opening frame, Moser mows down six straight Lady Lion hitters to close the door and escape with the win.
No rest for the weary. Hazleton and Brandywine go toe to toe once again on Friday afternoon with potential playoff seeding at stake. The Lady Lions will hit the road to take on their eastern division rival in round two of the series, beginning at 2:00 p.m. at the Maple Zone Sports Village in Aston, Pa.