Nittany Lions nab road wins at Schuylkill

Mark Kokinda pulls up at third base after an RBI triple. Taken 3/9/20.
Mark Kokinda pulls up at third base after an RBI triple. Taken 3/9/20.

On Sunday, Hazleton looked to continue their winning ways after garnering three victories in their last four outings as they traveled to Schuylkill Valley Legion Field in Middleport. PA to take on rival Penn State Schuylkill. Slamming out 15 hits in two games, using the long ball, and riding the arms of their pitching staff, the Lions walked away with a sweep of the day taking both games by identical 11-9 scores. The wins not only qualified Hazleton for post-season play; they evened out their record at 4-4 in the PSUAC eastern division and 5-5 overall for the season. The two teams will meet again on Tuesday, as the games shift to Hazleton for another double-header with the first pitch slated for 2:00 PM.

Game One: Penn State Schuylkill 9, Penn State Hazleton 11 (Final, 7 Innings)

Schuylkill jumped out to a 2-0 in the first inning as Jake Leininger hit a 2-run home run to deep left center field for his 3rd home run of the season.. Hazleton responded in the top of the inning when  Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, PA/Carbon County Career & Technical Institute) got on via an error and moved to third on a single by starter Ryan Wingerter (Dingman's Ferry, PA/Delaware Valley HS).  A walk to  Jake Taschler (Palmerton, PA/Palmerton HS) loaded the bases before Bryce Dalpiaz (Liverpool, PA/Greenwood, PA) lifted a long sac fly to score Nothstein and close the gap 2-1. The home team then tacked on a third run in the bottom half of the second inning when two errors and a hit batsman loaded the bases followed by a sac fly to center made the score 3-1 Schuylkill.

The Local Lions erupted in the third tacking on six runs on five hits and capitalized on three errors sending 11 men to the plate in the inning. Mason Goida (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS), Taschler and Wingerter all had singles while Nick Ciszak (Kunkletown, PA/Pleasant Valley HS) added a double. Hazleton would add a single tally in the 5th on a James Conza (Bushkill. PA/Delaware Valley HS) solo home run upping the lead to 8 – 3, but Schuylkill responded with two runs in their half of the frame to cut into the lead. Hazleton kept their foot on the throttle scoring two in the 6th inning via a Ciszak solo blast and an RBI single by Dalpiaz, and one more in their half of the 9th when Conza got hit by a pitch, stole second and third, and then scored on a Goida sac fly.

Schuylkill would not go down quietly as they scored four runs in the bottom inning to bring close the gap, but heads up defensive play ended the game with a final score of 11-9 Hazleton. Wingerter notched his third win of the year on the mound as well as having two hits and two RBI. Ciszak ended the day with three hits (a single, double and home run for 2 RBI) while Conza also added a home run and 4 stolen bases with 2 RBI. Hazleton pounded out 10 hits on the day, taking 3 bb's and striking out 5 times.

Game Two: Penn State Schuylkill 9, Penn State Hazleton 11 (Final, 7 Innings)

Game two started out as a polar opposite of the first game. Hazleton jumped out to a 4-0 in the first when they sent 10 batters to the plate; Mason Goida singled, Brandon Hardiman (Hunlock Creek, PA/Northwest Area HS)  reached on an error, and nick Ciszak blasted his second home run of the day. Eric Nothstein singled, moved to third on a Ryan Wingerter single, and then scored on a Jake Taschler single. Starter  Vinny Castrine (Germansville, PA/Northwestern Lehigh HS) cruised through the first inning, but Schuylkill flexed it's muscles in the second and pushed across 7 runs to jump back ahead 7-4. The damage all came with two outs as the hosts combined 5 hits – the big blast being coming in Jake Leininger's second home run of the game - and two errors along with a walk and a hit batsman to post the big crooked number.

Hazleton wouldn't quit as they came right back and scored 2 runs in the 3rd inning when Nothstein walked, moved to second on a passed ball, advance to third on a fly out to center and then scored on an infield hit by Jake Taschler. Bryce Dalpiaz (Liverpool, PA/Greenwood, PA) reached via a fielder's choice, and was replaced by courtesy runner Ed Wess (East Stroudsburg, PA/Notre Dame East Stroudsburg HS). Wess moved up to second on a single by Mark Kokinda (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS), and then scored on a James Conza single. They tacked on three more in the 4th and took the lead by a score of 9-7 using singles by Nothstein, Wingerter and Conza while taking advantage of two Schuylkill errors. With one out in the 5th, Ciszak singled and moved to second on a wild pitch and then moved to third on a strikeout in the dirt which caused the Schuylkill catcher to throw to first to get the out. He then scored on a Wingerter single to put Hazleton up 10-7. Schuylkill added two runs in the bottom half of the inning but got no more as Castrine would call it a day.

The local Lions would get one more run in the 6th when Kokinda walked, stole second, moved to third on a fielder's choice and then scored on a wild pitch making the score 11-9. Goida came in to relieve Castrine and shut the door in the 6th; but then going into the 7th, Schuylkill tried one more time for the comeback. With one out, back to back singles put runners on first and second. A ground ball to Taschler at first base recorded the second out of the inning, but both runners moved up and the tying run sat at second. Coach Jeff Nietz went to the bullpen one more time calling on Nothstein who promptly struck out the batter to record the last out and grab a save on the day.

Castrine recorded his first collegiate win on the mound while Goida was also credited with a save. Ryan Wingerter was the big hitter on the day rapping out 4 hits in the game (ending the day with a 6 for 9 day). Nick Ciszak added a home run and single (3 rbi's), James Conza added 2 singles (2 RBI), and Jake Taschler also added 2 singles on the day (1 RBI). The Lions finished the game with 11 runs on 13 hits, with 6 walks and 5 strikeouts.