Lions bounce back with pair of wins over Brandywine

Nick Ciszak swings at a pitch.
Nick Ciszak swings at a pitch.

Hazleton, Pa. - 

After a subpar outing the night before, the Nittany Lions returned to the friendly confines of Hazle Township and swept a two-game set from PSUAC powerhouse Penn State Brandywine. On a beautiful day for baseball in front of a large crowd and program recruits, the Lions won with a shutout in the first game 4-0. It took extra innings in the second game after Brandywine tied the score in the top of the 7th;  Hazleton scored the winning run on a bang-bang play at the plate in the bottom of the 8th to take the 6-5 victory. The pair of wins moved the Lions to 8-7 overall and 7-6 in the conference while putting them in second place in the PSUAC. The Lions will travel to York Pa. on Monday to finish out the regular season in a nine inning game with Penn State York.

Game 1: Penn State Hazleton 5, Penn State Brandywine 0

The big story of this game was the return of Colin Stauffer (Hazleton, PA/Hazleton HS) to the mound for Hazleton. Stauffer made his first mound appearance of the year in a rehab stint and ended up throwing five innings, striking out 12 batters while only issuing one hit and one walk. Mark Kokinda (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS) came on to relieve Stauffer in the 6th and shut the door on Brandywine preserving the shutout while picking up a save and giving Hazleton the win.

The game was scoreless until Hazleton put three runs on the board in the bottom of the 5th inning. A sacrifice bunt by Mason Goida (Lansford, PA/Panther Valley HS)  moved Hazleton's two base runners to second and third, leading to an intentional walk issued to Colin Stauffer that loaded the bases. Nick Ciszak (Kunkletown, PA/Pleasant Valley HS) was hit by a pitch to force in a run and load the bases once again, and then James Conza (Bushkill. PA/Delaware Valley HS) scored on a wild pitch. The third tally scored when , Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, PA/Carbon County Career & Technical Institute) lined a single to center field.

Hazleton added two more runs in the 6th when a Bryce Dalpiaz (Liverpool, PA/Greenwood, PA) drove a 3-2 fastball over the left field fence for his first home run of the year and when Goida walked and came all the way around to score on a Stauffer double. Stauffer relinquished the mound to Koinda who only allowed one runner in two innings. Final score was Hazleton 5, Brandywine 0.

Game 2: Penn State Hazleton 6, Penn State Brandywine 5 (Final, 8 Innings)

As tremendous as the first game was, the second outing of the day proved to be even more exciting than the opener. Hazleton took an early 4 – 0 lead scoring three runs in the 2nd inning and one in the 3rd. In the 2nd inning,  starting pitcher Ryan Wingerter (Dingman's Ferry, PA/Delaware Valley HS) singled and was replaced by courtesy runner, Brandon Hardiman (Hunlock Creek, PA/Northwest HS). Hardiman moved to second on an error by the pitcher and then moved all the way to third on back-to-back walks to  Jake Taschler (Palmerton, PA/Palmerton HS)  and Bryce Dalpiaz. Dalpiaz was then  replaced by courtesy runner Solomon Grant (Williamsport, PA/St. John Neumann HS). Hardiman scored on a single by James Conza and both Taschler and Grant scored on a single by Mason Goida. The Lions tacked on another run in the 3rd when Nick Ciszak walked, moved to second on a fielder's choice error, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Taschler making the score 4-0.

Brandywine would not give in easily and started to get to Wingerter in the 4th. Using four runs on four hits and one error, Brandywine evened the score at 4-4. Hazleton took the lead in the 5th when Ciszak singled, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on a Taschler single.

Taking a 5-4 lead into the final frame, Brandywine bomber Tyler Brooks send a Wingerter fastball over the left field fence to tie the game. Wingerter would call it a day as , Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, PA/Carbon County Career & Technical Institute)  came in to take over the pitching duties. Nothstein closed out the rest of the 7th as well as the 8th setting up the stage for a dramatic ending, In the bottom of the 8th, Mark Kokinda singled and stole second. After a short fly out to center and a ground out for the second out, Colin Stauffer lined a single to right but Kokinda avoided the tag at the plate to give Hazlewton the walk-off win. The final score ended up 6-5 giving the local Lions the series sweep.