USCAA Championship run ends with 9-4 loss to Brandywine

Kylee Sutton makes a sliding stop at second base.
Kylee Sutton makes a sliding stop at second base.

DuBois, Pa. - Two days after handling their rival in the opening round of the USCAA Small College World Series, the Lady Lions failed to stave of elimination against the PSUAC champions in Penn State Brandywine. Brandywine scored straight runs in the middle innings and held off a late rally from Hazleton to advance with a 9-4 win. 

Both squads traded shots in the early innings with Brandywine cashing in a sacrifice fly in the first inning followed by a RBI single from sophomore Kylee Sutton in second frame to match the score at 1-1. Both squads remained deadlocked until things took a fateful turn in the fourth frame. For the second time in the game, Brandywine tripled and scored to take the lead but this time Hazleton was unable to limit the damage to a single score. A error in the infield prolonged the inning and with two out and runners at second and third, Brandywine's Maddie Malfaira tagged a single to score both runners and eventually came around to score on a second throwing error on the play, increasing the Brandywine advantage to 5-1. 

Hazleton had earned just two base runners since their lone tally crossed the plate in the second inning while Brandywine seemingly took advantage of every opportunity. Three straight hits in the top of the sixth inning led to a pair of insurance runs again it was Malfaira inflicting the damage with the two-RBI double. Hazleton's Madison Clark (Emmaus, Pa.) nearly escaped the inning with no further damage, but a pair of walks with two outs ultimately came back to haunt her. With Brandywine's 10th and final hit of the game, Alexandra Szpindor cashed in both runners with a double to right centerfield, leaving Hazleton trailing 9-1 with just two at bats left.

Though trailing by eight, Hazleton refused to give up. After a lead off single from Clark, Hazleton loaded the bases with two more singles and a sacrifice fly by freshman Sky Esterly (Bethlehem, Pa.) took the mercy rule out of play. Sutton followed with her second big hit of the game, issuing a double to the gap and trimming the deficit to 9-4 but for Hazleton it was too little too late. Although Hazleton senior Samantha Varela (Hazleton, Pa.) came up with a line drive single in the seventh, no late rally was forthcoming in this one as Hazleton exited with their second loss of the tournament. 

With five hits in their final two at bats, Hazleton matched Brandywine in hitting with 10 totals knocks. Sutton led the Lady Lions with a 2-for-3 effort, driving in three of Hazleton's four scores. Freshman Cassandra Passamonte (Buhkill, Pa.) added two hits and a pair of runs scored while Varela finished 2-for-4, ending her illustrious career with the seventh inning bullet. 

Clark pitched well for much of the game but the two big innings spelled defeat for the freshman hurler. Clark allowed seven earned runs on 10 hits in six innings of work while striking out three batters.

Next up: Wednesday's loss brings the 2019 season to an end. Hazleton finishes the year with a 23-18 record and saw their resurgence in the PSUAC and on the national stage.