Hazleton trades blows with York in weekend series

Brandon Hardiman awaits a pitch in the box.
Brandon Hardiman awaits a pitch in the box.

Hazleton, Pa. - Hazleton traded shots with Penn State York over the course of a home/away weekend baseball series in the Penn State University Athletic Conference. The Lions made the trip to Shyrock Field in York, Pa. on Friday where they fell in game one 5-3 but rebounded in the second game to earn a split with a 7-4 win behind the arm of Junior Brandon Hardiman (Hunlock Creek, Pa.). Roles would reverse on Saturday with the Lions hosting York at Hazle Township Park. Sophomore Ryan Wingerter (Dingman's Ferry, Pa.) pitched seven strong innings to help Hazleton capture Hazleton's second win in a row by the score of 8-6 but the Hazleton bats cooled off in game two, dropping the weekend series finale 9-2. 

Friday, April 9: Game 1 - Penn State York 5, Penn State Hazleton 3                 Game 2: Penn State York 4, Penn State Hazleton 7

York took advantage of a slow start for Hazleton to take command of the first game. The Lions committed three errors and issued three walks to York batters in the first two innings resulting in five scores during the first two innings. Hazleton chipped away midway through game, getting two separate RBI hits from sophomore Mason Goida (Lansford, Pa.) and a third run off the bat of junior Jacob Taschler (Palmerton, Pa.) but York would retire the side in order in the sixth and seventh innings to hang on for a 5-3 win. 

In game two, Hazleton scored in the first inning but once again allowed York to sneak ahead. Two tallies in the first and a bases loaded walk in the second inning gave York a 3-1 advantage but Hazleton was poised for a big inning in the third. Hazleton sent 12 batters to the plate in the top half of the third, notching seven hits to claim a 7-3 lead. Three of those scores cam on a mid-inning double by freshman Chris Neyhard (Bloomsburg, Pa.) who cleared the bases with shot to left field. RBI knocks by Ryan Wingerter, freshman Solomon Grant (Williamsport, Pa.) and Brandon Hardiman contributed to the six run frame as Hazleton surged ahead. 

Following the offensive outpour, Hardiman settled in on the mound for Hazleton. The junior allowed just three hits over the next five innings, surrendering one run courtesy of back to back knocks by York in the fifth. Overall, Hardiman finished with two earned runs allowed on four hits while striking out five batters to guide Hazleton to their first win of the season. 

Saturday, April 10: Game 1 - Penn State York 6, Penn State Hazleton 8                 Game 2: Penn State York 9, Penn State Hazleton 2

Hazleton returned on Saturday for their first home games of the season, once again looking to top Penn State York and just as in Friday's win, the Lions would utilize the big inning to get the job done. Both squads went scoreless through four innings but following three scores by York in the fifth and sixth innings, urgency set in for the Nittany Lion offense. With just six chances remaining, Hazleton hitters became the toughest of outs. Ten straight batters reached safely for Hazleton in the inning. The Lions racked up six hits over that stretch including a three run blast from Taschler midway through the frame. Hazleton would chase two different York pitchers from the game in the momentum shifting inning, garnering eight runs to take a commanding five run lead into York's final at bat. 

Despite the huge rally from the Lions, York continued to threaten Hazleton after losing the lead. A pair of two-out hits by the visitors netted York three scores and got the tying run to plate. But with a runner on second base, Ryan Wingerter induced a game-ending ground ball to escape with the win by the score of 8-6. A satisfying win for the sophomore hurler who was dynamite in the early frames. Wingerter faced the minimum through the first four innings and allowed zero hits after five frames. Late defensive trouble for Hazleton spoiled the perfect stat line but the Wingerter still finished with a the win and no earned runs allowed in seven innings of work. The sophomore also helped his own cause from the plate, driving in two runs while going 2-for-3 with a pair of singles.

Both teams would trade runs in the first two innings, but in game two it was York's turn to tack a crooked number on the scoreboard. With the score tied at one each, York struck for five hits in the top of the third. Four straight hits came with two outs in the inning, including back to back doubles by York's Andrew Russo and Dayne Yourkavitch leading to five score inning and 6-1 lead over Hazleton. York's big inning led to quality pitching and defense from visitors who shut Hazleton down over the next three trips on offense. Hazleton managed three hits over the final two innings of play but could only rally for one score in the seventh frame, a sacrifice fly by freshman Eddie Wess (East Stroudsburg, Pa.) as one of the few bright spots of the 9-2 defeat. 

Next up: Hazleton returns to action on Tuesday, April 13 when they travel to Penn State Scranton for a 9-inning ball game.