Nittany Lions strike for pair of wins over Scranton

Jayla Irvin sets up for a ground ball at third base.
Jayla Irvin sets up for a ground ball at third base.

Drums, Pa. - The Hazleton Nittany Lions clubbed their way to a pair of victories on Saturday afternoon, topping Penn State Scranton in three innings in both ends of the double-header. Hazleton used nine hits to stack up 16 runs in games one, shutting out Scranton behind a no-hit effort from Hazleton hurler, junior Sky Esterly (Nazareth, Pa.). The Lions trailed briefly in game two but excelled and the dish to post 10 hits and best Scranton by the score of 18-3. 

Game One: Penn State Scranton 0, Penn State Hazleton 16 (Final, 3 Innings)

Esterly set the pace from the circle by striking out the side and then took that momentum to the batter's box driving in Hazleton's first score of the game with a double to left field. Later in the frame, a double to right center field by junior Cassidy Lentz (Germansville, Pa.) drove in two more runs and Hazleton finished the frame with a 6-0 cushion stemming from six walks in the inning. 

Following a second straight clean inning by Esterly, Hazleton struck for 10 runs in the bottom half of the second. Five different Nittany Lions drove in runs throughout the seven-hit inning including two knocks by Lentz who singled and doubled in the inning. With Hazleton in firm control, Esterly ended the ball game exactly as she started it, striking out the side to evoke the mercy rule and pick up her first win of the young season. 

Top Performers: 

A career offensive outing for Cassidy Lentz who finished game one 3-for-3 with two doubles and a game high six RBI. To go along with the win, Esterly added a 2-for-2 performance offensively, scoring a pair of runs and driving in three scores. Freshman Jess Lepore (Telford, Pa.) and junior Sadie Heiney (Palmerton, Pa.) added multi-RBI efforts to round out Hazleton's top hitters in game one. 

Game 2: Penn State Scranton 3, Penn State Hazleton 18 (Final, 3 Innings) 

Scranton delivered in the top half of the first inning by stringing together a pair of hits in the early stages of play. A lead off single and stolen base by Scranton's Emily Scarfo turned into the games first run coming on a single to right field by Kathryn Lahey. But Scranton's lead would be short-lived as Hazleton pounced for nine runs in the opening frame on four hits and five free passes. Once again, Esterly started the damage with an RBI double to score Jess Lepore and tie the game at 1-1. Hits by Lentz, junior McKayla Wildrick (Germansville, Pa.) and freshman Linsey Fisk (Millville, Pa.) contributed to the offensive outpouring, allowing Hazleton to build up an eight run cushion. 

Senior Mackenzie Joy (Hazleton, Pa.) blanked Scranton in the second inning allowing Hazleton to add to their lead in the bottom half of the second. Hazleton converted three straight walks in the second stanza into runs on the board, getting productive outs by Wildrick and freshman Rebecca Baum (Stewartstown, Pa.) to go up 12-1 in the game. Freshman Natalee West (Nicholson, Pa.) entered in relief for the Lions in the top half of the third and Scranton was able to scratch out a pair of scores on two hits and an error, but West bounced back to retire the side and send Hazleton back on the offensive with limited damage done. 

With the score at 12-3, Hazleton managed six runs on six hits in the final inning. An RBI single by Heiney started off the scoring, followed shortly thereafter by a bases loaded triple off the bat of sophomore Jayla Irvin (Bethlehem, Pa.). Wildrick swiftly drove in Irvin from third with an infield hit and scored the game-ending run on a wild pitch two batters later. 

Top Performers: 

Irvin's third inning, three-run triple would earn her top honors as the game's top run producer, with Esterly and Wildrick coming in multi-RBI performances themselves. Esterly finished game two 2-for-2 with two RBI and three runs scored followed by Wildrick's 2-for-3 effort, adding two runs scored and two driven in. Eight Hazleton hitters in total combined for 10 hits, 12 RBI and nine walks in the victory. Mackenzie Joy picked up her first win of the season for Hazleton, tossing two innings of one run ball. 

Next up: Hazleton's Sunday double-header at Scranton has been postponed due to the impending rainfall on Sunday. The NIttany Lions next scheduled action is slated for Thursday, April 1 when Hazleton hosts Penn State Schuylkill at Freedom Park with game one of that double-header set to begin at 2:30 p.m.