Lions split homestand with Brandywine

Jake Taschler swings at the pitch.
Jake Taschler swings at the pitch.

Drifton, Pa. - The Nittany Lions were out-hit 24-10 throughout Sunday afternoon's double-header with Penn State Brandywine although Hazleton still managed to split the homestand. After falling victim to a late rally by the visitors in game one, the Hazleton defense backed up a strong pitching outing by sophomore Brett Kosciolek (Tamaqua, Pa.) that leveled the Lions PSUAC record at 3-3. 

Game One: Penn State Hazleton 7, Penn State Brandywine 11

Hazleton's struggles to stay out big innings continued to manifest themselves in this back and forth affair. The Lions took a lead in the first inning when sophomore Colin Stauffer (Hazleton, Pa.) drove in freshman Wyatt Kindler (Mountain Top, Pa.) on a triple to the right centerfield gap. Stauffer found his way home after a throwing error in the Brandywine infield. Hazleton led 2-0 however that advantage wouldn't last long. Brandywine scored six unanswered runs on five hits over their next two at bats to claim a 6-2 lead after three innings. 

Back and forth action continued and this time it was Hazleton's turn to rally. A productive ground-out in the fourth inning by freshman Jacob Taschler (Palmerton, Pa.) cut the deficit to three runs and a four hit inning sparked by an RBI bunt single from sophomore Dominic Yannuzzi (Hazleton, Pa.) led to a four run burst in the bottom of the fifth frame. 

Brandywine proceeded to load the bases in the top half of the sixth inning and Hazleton nearly escaped the frame unscathed thanks to a pair of clutch strikeouts from hurler Colin Stauffer, but a walk and a passed ball to Brandywine's Joe Hurley plated the tying and go ahead scores. A second passed ball and a base hit to right field followed, giving Brandywine a 10-7 cushion after Stauffer nearly worked his way out of the jam. Hazleton would go hitless in their final two at-bats as Brandywine pulled off the comeback win by the score of 11-7.

Hazleton was led by freshman Joan Vasquez (Hazleton, Pa.) who ended the game 2-for-3 with two RBI. Dom Yannuzzi added two hits to his credit as did Kindler with a 2-for-4 outing, scoring two of Hazleton's seven runs. Stuaffer earned the loss after 5.2 innings pitched, allowing nine earned runs on 12 hits and five walks.

Game Two: Penn State Hazleton 4, Penn State Brandywine 3

There's nothing more handy than a solid pitching effort to avoid a sweep and that's exactly what Kosciolek delivered in game two of the double-header. The sophomore surrendered single scores to Brandywine in their first two at-bats but was lights out afterward. The right hander retired 12 of 14 batters faced from the second inning through the sixth frame, giving the Lions their opportunity to flip the score.

Colin Stauffer smacked his second triple of the day in the fourth inning and came home to score on a single by Kosciolek that cut the deficit to one run. Hazleton went down in order in the fifth frame but rallied in a big way with a three run sixth stanza. The Lions would net just one hit in the pivotal frame while taking advantage of a couple of Brandywine misfires. A walk and an error allowed Dom Yannuzzi to drive in the tying score on a double to left field and left runners at second and third base with just one out. Brandywine changed arms but a wild pitch brought home sophomore Joey Kolessar (Queens, Ny.) from third and Josh Malkemes (Mountain Top, Pa.) cashed in a Yannuzzi from third on a sac fly to center field, giving Hazleton a 4-2 advantage heading into the final inning. 

After Kosciolek sat down two of the first three hitters in the seventh, trouble began to brew for Hazleton. Back to back singles by Ben Mutz and Joey Buoni made it a one score game with the tying run in scoring position but Kosciolek managed to right the ship, inducing a game ending ground ball to second base. 

Hazleton was out-hit in game two, nine hits to four although the Lions made the most of nearly every base runner. Stuaffer finished 1-for-2 with two runs scored to lead the offense while Yannuzzi ended the game 1-for-3 with an RBI and a run scored. Kosciolek picked up his second win of the season, tossing seven strong innings and scattering nine hits. The sophomore hurler gave up just two earned runs while striking out a pair of batters in the victory. 

Next up: The Nittany Lions take a quick break from conference action to battle Luzerne County Community College on Tuesday afternoon. Hazleton will face the Trailblazers in a nine inning game beginning at 3:30 p.m. in Nanticoke, Pa.