Hazleton drops two game set at Brandywine

Jake Taschler at the plate.
Jake Taschler at the plate.

Aston, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton hit the road on Monday traveling to the Maple Zone Sports complex in Aston, PA to face high-powered Penn State Brandywine looking to win their first game of the season. Brandywine was 6-1 over all and 3-1 in the PSUAC going into the game while Hazleton's record stood at 0-1 overall and in conference play. Playing late into the night, Hazleton battled in both games keeping the scores close but ended up still looking for that first win as they fell 5-3 in the first game and 6-4 in the second. Hazleton will return to action Friday, traveling to play Penn State York and begin the home and away four-game conference series. 

Game 1: Penn State Hazleton 3, Penn State Brandywine 5 (Final, 7 Innings)

Brandywine opened the bottom of the first inning scoring three runs off of starter Ryan Wingerter (Dingman's Ferry, PA/Delaware Valley HS). Those three runs stood until the top of the fourth when Solomon Grant (Williamsport, PA/St. John Neumann HS) walked and advanced to second on a push bunt by Vinny Castrine (Germansville, PA/Northwestern Lehigh HS). Josh Robin (Nesquehoning , PA/Panther Valley HS)  followed with a walk to load the bases. Wingerter helped his cause when he blasted a two-run double deep down the leftfield line scoring Grant and Castrine. Nick Vitale (Mountain Top, PA/Crestwood HS) then lifted long sacrifice fly to leftfield scoring Robin to put the Lions on the board to tie the game 3-3. Brandywine came right back in the bottom half of the frame scoring one run and adding another in the fifth to close out the scoring and winning the game 5-3.

Wingerter ended the day with 2 RBI's and Vitale garnering the other. A host of Lions got their first starts of their collegiate careers – in addition to Grant and Robin, Dustin Kiddish (Freeland, PA/Hazleton HS), Chris Neyhard (Bloomsburg, PA/Columbia Moutour Area Vocational School), and Ed Wess (East Stroudsburg, PA/Notre Dame East Stroudsburg HS) all saw their first starts of the year.

Game 2: Penn State Hazleton 4, Penn State Brandywine 6 (Final, 7 Innings)

Game two saw another close encounter between the two Penn State Commonwealth campuses. Hazleton got on the board first scoring two runs in the second inning. With one out, Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, PA/Carbon County Career & Technical Institute) lined a single off the pitcher for an infield hit followed by a Bryce Dalpiaz (Liverpool, PA/Greenwood, PA) walk to put runners at first and second. After a fielder's choice advanced the runners, Solomon Grant (Williamsport, PA/St. John Neumann HS) laced a single to the right center gap to score Nothstein and Dalpiaz and put the local Lions up 2-0. Brandywine answered in the bottom half of the third inning to knot the score at 2-2 coming off three walks and an error by the Hazleton squad. 

The score would remain tied until Hazleton grabbed the lead again when Mason Goida (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS) reached first base on an error and then move up to second on a fielder's choice. Nick Ciszak (Kunkletown, PA/Pleasant Valley HS) ripped a single up the middle scoring Goida and putting Hazleton up 3-2. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off for Hazleton as Brandywine scored 4 runs in the bottom half of the inning on two errors and four walks to take a 6-3 lead into the top of the seventh. A leadoff single by Jake Taschler (Palmerton, PA/Palmerton HS)  followed by a Grant walk gave the lions some hope. Both runners advanced on a fielder's choice and then James Conza (Bushkill. PA/Delaware Valley HS) to load the bases. Goida grounded out for the second out of the inning with Brandywine conceding the run allowing Taschler to score. With Grant and Conza poised to score to tie the game and send it to the bottom of the seventh, the comeback hopes ended with a strikeout to finish the game. The final score was Brandywine 6, Hazleton 4. Grant ended the day with two RBI's while Nothstein took the loss on the hill but finished with 7 K's for the game.