Hazleton salvages split with Schuylkill

James Conza squares up the baseball. Taken on 3/9/20.
James Conza squares up the baseball. Taken on 3/9/20.

Hazleton, Pa. - 

Tuesday's sunshine and warm temperatures proved to be a great day for round two of the Penn State Hazleton vs. Penn State Schuylkill baseball matchup. Following up two exciting games between these two teams on Sunday, Tuesday's contests did not disappoint as the two teams split the afternoon double-header with Schuylkill winning the first game 4-0 and home team Hazleton coming back to win a thrilling game two by a 5-4 score.

Tuesday's win allowed Hazleton to capture the series and even their PSUAC record at 5-5 as well as their overall record at 6-6. This weekend will bring the season finale series with Brandywine as Hazleton will travel to Brandywine Friday but will serve as the home team for the double-header; and then return home Saturday to host Brandywine in a nine inning game.

Game One: Penn State Schuylkill 4, Penn State Hazleton 0 (Final, 7 Innings)

The visitors didn't waste time tacking on a run first inning. With two outs in the frame, two consecutive errors allowed the run, putting the home team behind 1-0. Schuylkill starter Jake Leininger (1-0) was spot on all day tossing 12 strikeouts, allowing only 4 hits and no walks in picking up his first mound victory of the year. He helped his cause when he blasted a home run in the third inning with a man on upping the score to 3-0 in favor of Schuylkill. The visitors posted their final tally of the game in the seventh inning to close out the scoring at 4-0 Schuylkill.

Hazleton failed to build any kind of rally resulting in a shut-out defeat in the opener. Brandon Hardiman (Hunlock Creek, PA/Northwest Area HS) (0-1) was the hard-luck loser giving up 3 runs, only one earned, on 3 hits. Ed Wess (East Stroudsburg, PA/Notre Dame East Stroudsburg HS) collected two hits on the day with Nick Vitale (Mountain Top, PA/Crestwood HS) and Hardiman adding singles for Hazleton.

Game Two: Penn State Schuylkill 4, Penn State Hazleton 5 (Final, 7 Innings)

Game two proved to be a nail-biter with both teams getting limited scoring and Hazleton holding off a late Schuylkill rally to claim the win. Schuylkill jumped right out to a 1-0 lead in the top half of the first with the aid of a walk and two errors. Hazleton came right back in the bottom half of the frame when James Conza (Bushkill. PA/Delaware Valley HS)  walked, stole second, moved to third on an error and then scored on a balk.

With the score tied at one apiece, Hazleton tacked on single runs in the second and third innings. With two outs in the second inning, Bryce Dalpiaz (Liverpool, PA/Greenwood, PA) reached on an error and was replaced by courtesy runner Solomon Grant (Williamsport, PA/St. John Neumann HS). Grant raced all the way to third on a single by Mark Kokinda (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS)  and then scored on an error making the score 2-1 Hazleton. In the third stanza, with one out, starting pitcher Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, PA/Carbon County Career & Technical Institute) blasted a double to the fence in deep center field. Nothstein was replaced by courtesy runner  Ed Wess (East Stroudsburg, PA/Notre Dame East Stroudsburg HS) who scored when Ryan Wingerter (Dingman's Ferry, PA/Delaware Valley HS) smashed a line drive double off the wall in left field.

Nothstein cruised through the middle innings but gave up a run in the sixth inning making the game a little tighter at 4-2. Hazleton would respond in the bottom half of the frame tacking on two insurance runs.  Jake Taschler (Palmerton, PA/Palmerton HS) singled and was replaced by pinch-runner Grant who moved to second and third on a wild pitch and a passed ball. Kokinda responded with his third hit of the day, lining the ball through the drawn-up infield to score Grant. Kokinda stole second and moved to third on a fielder's choice, and then scored on a single by Mason Goida (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS).

Schuylkill would not go away quietly and mounted their own rally in the seventh. With his pitch count climbing, Nothstein walked the first two batters in the inning before getting a huge strike out for the first out. He then walked two more batters forcing in a run before registering another strikeout for the second out. The game got tense as Nothstein hit a batter to force in the fourth run for Schuylkill and putting the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second;  but then shut the door with his third strikeout of the inning and giving Hazleton the 5-4 victory.

The win upped his record to 2-0 on the season. Kokinda ended the day with a 3-3 effort with one RBI while WIngerter and Nothstein added a double each. Goida, Taschler and  Nick Ciszak (Kunkletown, PA/Pleasant Valley HS) all had a one hit apiece in the win.