Nittany Lions extend win streak to 5 games

Natalee West hustles to second base.
Natalee West hustles to second base.

Aston, Pa. - Penn State Hazleton was back on the road Wednesday, this time traveling for a two game set vs. Penn State Brandywine at the Maple Zone Sports Complex. Hazleton never trailed on the day and held off a late rally by Brandywine in the second end of the double-header to capture a two game sweep and extend their recent winning streak to five games. 

Game One: Penn State Hazleton 10, Penn State Brandywine 3 (Final, 7 Innings)

A three-hit first inning got Hazleton off to a hot start and allow the Lions to build off the momentum. Freshman Jess Lepore (Telford, Pa.) led off the game with a double and came in to score two hitters later when junior Sadie Heiney cashed in the game's first run on a single through the middle infield. With two outs and Heiney on second base, freshman Linsey Fisk (Millville, Pa.) drove the ball up the right field line for a triple and 2-0 advantage for Hazleton before Brandywine could retire the side. 

Hazleton went on to add four runs in the third frame with a pair of unearned runs and RBI single off the bats of senior Mackenzie Joy (Hazleton, Pa.) and sophomore Sara Lamana (Allentown, Pa.) which extended Hazleton's cushion to five runs. The Lions furthered their cause in the fifth inning with another four-run effort to take firm command of the game. Hazleton picked up back to back hits midway through the at-bat, getting another RBI single from Lamana, followed by a two-run triple off the bat of Lepore who later came in from third on a wild pitch to cap the scoring for Hazleton at 10 runs. 

While the offense was rolling, Hazleton's pitching and defense was equally impressive in the series opener. Junior Cassidy Lentz (Germansville, Pa.) managed to scatter eight hits and three walks and avoid serious trouble all game. The junior surrendered single scores to Brandywine in the first, fourth and fifth frames but effectively pitched to contact all game. Behind her, the Lions kept a clean sheet defensively allowing the junior hurler to cruise through seven innings for a complete game win by the score of 10-3. 

Top Performers

Fisk ended the game as Hazleton's top hitter, notching three hits in four trips to the plate while driving in one run and crossing the plate twice. Jess Lepore went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBI while Mackenzie Joy and Sara Lamana added multi-hit efforts as well. Lentz tallied four strikeouts from the circle in the win, allowing three earned runs for her third victory on the season. 

Game Two: Penn State Hazleton 4, Penn State Brandywine 3 (Final, 7 Innings)

Hazleton jumped ahead early in game two, taking advantage of a first inning miscue in the Brandywine infield. After a posting a zero in the bottom half of the first, the Lions tacked on three more scores in their second at bat. Hazleton's first three hitters would reach safely, paving the way for freshman Rebecca Baum (Stewartstown, Pa.) to drive in a run with a single through the Brandywine infield. Jess Lepore Junior Sadie Heiney (Palmerton, Pa.) followed with a pair of sacrifice flies to produce the final two scores of the inning and give Hazleton a 4-0 advantage. 

The Hazleton offense would stall out following their first two trips on offense, but continued to perform well defensively as a pitchers' duel broke out for much of the remainder of the game. Rebecca Baum allowed just two hits to Brandywine through her first five innings in the circle and coasted to the final innings of the day, but Brandywine would test the young hurler in their last at bats. Brandywine broke up the shut out with back to back two-out hits in the sixth inning, scoring a run on a triple by Jacie Sparacino. Baum escaped with just one run allowed in the inning but Brandywine would take advatage of two Hazleton errors in the bottom of the seventh and threatened to walk off with a game two victory. Brandywine tacked on two runs in the innings and got the winning run to first base, but with two out and runners at the corners, Baum successfully induced a ground ball to Lepore to end the game as Hazleton escaped with a one run victory. 

Top Performers

Hazleton mustered just seven hits in game two but it was just enough to get the job done. Mackenzie Joy led the Hazleton hitters with a 2-for-4 effort while Lepore and both finished 1-for-3 with an RBI. In the circle, Baum picked up her fourth win of the year, tossing seven innings of six-hit softball, allowing one earned run while striking out five. 

Next up: Hazleton continues a big week in the Penn State University Athletic Conference with a home away series against Penn State DuBois. The Lions will host Dubois on Friday at 2:00 p.m. at Freedom Park in Drums, Pa.