Lions take conference opener vs. Scranton

Colin Stauffer delivers a pitch.
Colin Stauffer delivers a pitch.

Berwick, Pa. - Senior Colin Stauffer (Hazleton, Pa.) pitched nine strong innings Friday afternoon, leading Hazleton to a 4-1 victory over Penn State Scranton at the North Berwick Baseball field in Berwick, Pa. After some early fireworks on offense, both pitchers settled in nicely but Stauffer's continued pounding of the strike zone kept Scranton off the board for eight straight innings to end the game. 

Scranton got to the senior in the first frame, taking advantage of a lead-off walk issued by Stauffer. A productive out by the number two hitter led to an RBI double down the left field line by Scranton's Garrett Walsh to put the visitors on top 1-0. That early cushion would be erased in a hurry by Hazleton who battled with two outs in the inning to get two base runners aboard for junior Eric Nothstein (Palmerton, Pa.) who promptly cleared the bases with a towering shot over the left field wall to give the Lions a 3-1 advantage after one inning. 

That would be nearly it for the offenses on Friday as Scranton's Mark Longo and Hazleton's Stauffer would begin to toss up zeros on the scoreboard. Longo retired nine of the next ten hitters he faced until troubled brewed in the fifth inning. Hazleton sophomore Nick Ciszak (Kunkletown, Pa.) and junior James Conza (Bushkill, Pa.) connected for back to back singles with one out in the inning, leaving runners at first and second for Hazleton. Freshman Jared Joyce (Jim Thorpe, Pa.) followed with a ground ball single through the left side of the infield, plating the speedy Ciszak from second base for a much needed insurance run. 

With a 4-1 cushion, Stauffer continued to cruise through the middle innings. The senior allowed just three base runners from the second inning through the sixth frame and despite facing a bit of trouble in the seventh, Stauffer summoned the control to squash a two-out rally with runners in scoring position. Stauffer allowed just one base runner in the final two innings, closing out the day with a dominant 13 strike outs for the complete game victory while allowing just four hits on the day. 

Next up: With Saturday's double-header at Scranton postponed, the Nittany Lions are next slated to take on the Monarchs of King's College on Tuesday, March 29 at 4:00 p.m.