Aston, Pa. - Hazleton was looking to take a firm grasp of the top seed in the Penn State University Athletic Conference softball playoffs on Friday, but Brandywine had other plans for the Lions as they managed to edge Hazleton in both ends of Friday's double-header at the Maple Zone Sports Complex outside of Media, Pa. Brandywine pitching and defense limited Hazleton to just one run scored on the day, securing two victories over Hazleton by scores of 5-1 and 9-0.
Game One: Penn State Hazleton 1, Penn State Brandywine 5
Brandywine jumped out to an early two run lead, scoring their first run after a walk and back to back singles from their first three hitters in the order. With runners at the corners and no one out, Hazleton was content to trade a run for an out, throwing out the runner on an attempted steal of second base but allowing the runner from third to dart home on the double steal. Trailing 2-0, the Lions threatened in the top of the third inning, getting three hits to load the bases, however Hazleton couldn't close the gap with a two-out hit to break up the shut-out and close the gap. Brandywine would make Hazleton pay after the missed opportunity, getting a two-run home run in the bottom of the third frame and later in the inning, notching a two-out RBI base hit through the middle infield to increase the gap to 5-0. Hazleton shrank the lead to 5-1 with two doubles in the fourth from freshmen Rebecca Baum (Stewartstown, Pa.) and Natalee West (Nicholson, Pa.) but the Lions would only manage to get three base runners in their final three trips on offense, coming up empty in their efforts to get back in contention and falling in game one by the score of 5-1.
Top Performers: Both squads were matched in the box score with nine hits each although Brandywine's would come in bunches leading to the Hazleton defeat. Brandywine's Rebecca Sorrentino and Haley Grossi both went 2-for-3 in the win while Peyton Landis delivered the two RBI home run in third to lead the home team's offensive efforts. For Hazleton, Baum finished the game 2-for-3 with the run scored along with freshman Jess Lepore (Telford, Pa.) who went 2-for-4. In the circle, Cassidy Lentz battled but allowed seven hits and four walks in the two innings in which Brandywine scored, ultimately resulting in the loss. Lentz finished the day with five runs allowed on nine hits and five walks while striking out two batters.
Game Two: Penn State Hazleton 0, Penn State Brandywine 9 (Final, 5 Innings)
Just as in game one, Hazleton matched Brandywine in the hitting column however Hazleton would again fail to come up with the big hit with runners on base. Likewise, Brandywine bunched together six hits in the first inning, leaping out to a commanding 6-0 lead in the opening frame. Five of those hits came with one or less outs allowing the home team to go up 4-0 and with runners at second and third and one out, Brandywine's Farrell Everett doubled off the center field wall to wrap up the big first inning.
Hazleton ran into trouble once again in the third inning. After getting the first hitter out, Brandywine secured a free pass followed by back to back hits and increase their lead to 8-0. The home squad took advantage of a Hazleton error to plate their ninth run of the game before the Lions escaped the inning. Hazleton got back to back singles in the fourth inning and a lead off single in the fifth, but on both occasions the rally stalled leading to a mercy rule defeat after five innings.
Top Performers: The bottom half of the Brandywine order came up big in this one, accounting for six of the home teams' tallies and five of their nine hits in the win. Everett led the way for Brandywine going 2-for-2 with four RBI followed by Lianna DeDios with a 2-for-2 effort and two RBI. Sophomore Jayla Irvin (Bethlehem, Pa.) finished 2-for-2 in game two and Jess Lepore added a 2-for-3 effort at the plate but the scattered hits resulted in the shut-out loss. Rebecca Baum took the loss for the Nittany Lions, ending the day with nine runs allowed on nine hits and one strikeout.
Next up: Hazleton and Brandywine are back in action on Saturday when Brandywine travels to Drums, Pa. for a 12:00 p.m. double-header. Hazleton will look to bounce back in their final games of the regular season as they look to build momentum heading into the post season.