Lions drop regular season finale to Royals

Jerrika Chorba at the plate on Monday night at University of Scranton
Jerrika Chorba at the plate on Monday night at University of Scranton

Scranton, Pa. - The Lady Lions played their final regular season games of the 219 season on Monday night, squaring off with NCAA Division III University of Scranton. Hazleton came from behind to tie both games but in each case, the Royals hitters responded to claim victory, by scores of 5-3 and 10-2.

Game One: Penn State Hazleton 3, University of Scranton 5

Hazleton spotted Scranton a three run head start, allowing a two run double in the first inning and an RBI single in the bottom of the third frame. Hazleton had just two hits to that point in the game although things got interesting in the fourth inning when singles by freshman Caitlyn Ashelman (Macungie, Pa.) and senior Jerrika Chorba (Bloomsburg, Pa.) caused a bases loaded jam for the Royals. With just one out in the inning, the Lions scored their first tally on a fielding error by the Royal pitcher and followed up with two runs to the next hitter on a wild pitch debacle. 

The Lady Lions were back in the mix although Scranton would find timely hitting down the stretch to retake the lead. Back to back base hits in the bottom of the fifth inning gave the Royals a 4-3 advantage and after Hazleton loaded the bases in the top half of the sixth frame, Scranton stranded all three base runners to keep control of the game. The Royals tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth inning, sending home a run on a triple to right field and closed the door in the seventh to secure the 5-3 win. 

Hazleton collected seven hits in game one but struggled at times to put the ball in play, whiffing 12 times in the series opener. Chorba ended the game as Hazleton's top hitter with two hits in three at-bats, adding a run scored in the loss. Sophomore Lexi Kessler (Bangor, Pa.) finished 2-for-4 with freshman Cassandra Passamonte (Bushkill, Pa.) going 1-for-2 with a run scored to round out the top offensive efforts in the game. Freshman Madison Clark picked up the loss, allowing five runs on nine hits in five innings of work. 

Game Two: Penn State Hazleton 2, University of Scranton 10 - Final/5 Innings

Trailing 2-0 after the first inning, the Lions loaded the bases in the top half of the second inning and squared the game at 2-2. An RBI walk for sophomore Mackenzie Joy (Hazleton, Pa.) paved the way for a single by senior Samantha Varela to knot the score, but Hazleton found themselves in a jam the very next frame. Scranton responded with a five hit inning that included two extra bases hits, taking advantage of two wild pitches to plate five scores in the inning and breaking the game open. Hazleton earned just one hit in their final two trips on offense while Scranton tacked on three scores in the final two innings, ending the game via the eight run rule after five innings. 

The Lions were held to just four hits in game two, with Varela picking up two of the knocks in the loss. The senior finished 2-for-3 with an RBI to lead all Hazleton hitters while freshman Jaclyn Hess (Bangor, Pa.) went 1-for-3 and sophomore Danielle King (Reading, Pa.) ending the game 1-for-2 with a run scored. Freshman Cassidy Lentz (Lehigh Valley, Pa.) earned the loss in the nightcap, allowing seven runs on eight hits in 2.1 innings of action. 

Next up: Hazleton got solid work in on Monday versus a quality DIII opponent in what serves as a tune up game for the Lady Lions as they head into the PSUAC postseason. Where Hazleton will stand in the postseason will be determined on Wednesday afternoon with a tiebreaker game to settle the top seed in the eastern division. Hazleton will square off with Penn State Brandywine on Wednesday at the Big Vision sports complex in Leesport, Pa. at 2:00 p.m. to determine the #1 seed. The loser of the tiebreaker will host Penn State Schuylkill on Friday, April 26 in round one of the PSUAC playoffs.