York edges Hazleton with late rally

Eric Nothstein fires a pitch.
Eric Nothstein fires a pitch.

York, Pa. - Hazleton's final game of the regular season came and went on Monday afternoon with a defeat to Penn State York in a nine inning contest at Shyrock Field. York added five runs to the board in the seventh and eighth frames, allowing them to withstand Hazleton's ninth inning comeback effort and escape with a 7-5 victory over the Lions.

Both squads traded first inning runs via a wild pitch and a passed ball but York pulled ahead in the second inning on a Eric Gornik single to right field of Hazleton sophomore Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, Pa.). Nothstein settled in on the mound to retire the side with no damage over the next three innings and got himself off the hook for the loss in the third inning when the Hazleton hurler drove in sophomore James Conza (Bushkill, Pa.) with a line drive single to left that tied the game at 2-2.

With the pitch count rising, Nothstein got the hook after five innings and the 2-2 tie score held up through six frames after junior Brandon Hardiman (Hunlock Creek, Pa.) took to the hill for Hazleton. But things would turn in York's favor in the seventh beginning with their first three batters reaching base on two singles and an error. The second hit broke up the tie and paved the way for a big inning for York. Two batters and one out later, the home squad got back to back singles lofted to shallow left field, plating two more runs and giving York a 5-2 cushion. 

Hazleton responded in the eighth inning as Conza scored on a double steal and Hazleton looked to be in business after York intentionally walked Nothstein to load the bases with one out in the inning. York's gamble against the rallying Hazleton squad paid off however, as the home squad induced an inning-ending double play to maintain a 5-3 lead after seven and a half innings. Hardiman and Hazleton defense looked to maintain the deficit at two runs and got two outs in the inning with no damage, but a pair of walks would come back to haunt him. With runners at first and second and two outs, York's Kalen Guyer dropped a base hit into right field to extend the lead to three scores and left runners at the corners. Guyer would attempt a steal of second base as Hardiman dealt to the next York batter and in a effort to close out the frame, Hazleton elected to throw out Guyer at second base on the attempt. Unfortunately for the Lions, the throw took Conza off the bag, allowing the runner from third to score a much needed insurance run. 

Hazleton came into their final at bats trailing 7-3 and got a rally cooking in the inning thanks to a solo home run to left field by sophomore Bryce Dalpiaz (Liverpool, Pa.) and a botched play in the York infield but with the tying run at the plate, Hazleton would come up empty leading the York victory by the score of 7-5. 

Top Performers: York's Eric Gornik proved to be a thorn in Hazleton's side, registering four hits in five at bats, adding an RBI and a run score to lead all hitters in the contest. Jarod Raubenstein pitched seven and a third innings of quality work for York but exited prior to his squad's seventh inning rally to earn a no decision. Raubenstein finished the day with three runs allowed on six hits and three walks with four strike outs to his credit. Evan Tanner entered in the seventh for York and picked up the win in 1.2 innings of work. 

Hazleton was led by Conza who went 3-for-5 at the plate, scoring four of Hazleton's five runs on the day. Dalpiaz finished 2-for-4 including his second home run of the season while Nothstein, junior Jacob Taschler (Palmerton, Pa.) and freshman Nick Ciszak (Kunkletown, Pa.) added singles in the loss. Hardiman earned the loss for Hazleton in his two innings of work, allowing two earned runs on five hits while striking out five York hitters. 

Next up: Monday's loss took Hazleton out of contention for the top spot in the PSUAC's eastern division but Hazleton remained a lock for the post-season. The Lions will travel to the Maple Zone Sports Complex in Aston, Pa. on Friday to face Penn State Schuylkill in round one of the playoffs. Start time for Friday's contest will be announce in the coming days.