Dunmore, Pa. - After the long COVID related layoff, and Mother Nature failing to cooperate, the Hazleton Nittany Lion baseball team took the field for their season opener at Penn State Scranton on Saturday (Hazleton served as the home team). Hazleton was looking to continue right where they left off last year but unfortunately Lion could not shake the early season rust off, falling to Scranton by the score of 4-1.
Getting the nod for his first collegiate start of his career on the mound Vinny Castrine (Germansville, PA/Northwestern Lehigh HS) locked up in a classic pitchers duel with Scranton starter Mark Longo. Allowing only one run in the first, Castrine battled Longo through the sixth inning when Longo was lifted. Both teams had an abundance of scoring changes, but backed by solid defenses, neither team could put up a run. Hazleton still trailed by one going into the bottom of the eighth when Mason Goida (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS) walked and abruptly stole second base. A brilliant shoestring catch in short center field by Longo (who had moved there when replaced on the mound) ended with Goida being doubled up at second on the play. Nick Ciszak (Kunkletown, PA/Pleasant Valley HS) singled and moved to third on a single by Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, PA/Carbon County Career & Technical Institute). When Nothstein attempted to steal second the pickoff throw sailed into center field allowing Ciszak to score easily tying the game at 1-1 heading into the ninth. Castrine surrendered the mound to Mark Kokinda (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS) but Kokinda allowed a one-out, three-run home run to Cole Bannan to put Scranton ahead 4-1.
Hazleton could only muster a one-out walk and stolen base by Kokinda in the bottom half of the frame to end the game. The win snapped a 5 year losing streak for Worthington- Scranton. The local Lions look to rebound when they travel to Penn State York on Monday to do battle in two seven inning games.