Hazleton comes up short at Wilkes University

Kendall Lobb takes an at bat.
Kendall Lobb takes an at bat.

Wilkes-Barre, Pa. - The Nittany Lions continued their non-conference season on Wednesday night, tangling with NCAA III Wilkes University in an evening double-header at the Ralston Athletic Complex that resulted in two losses for Hazleton. The Lions competed well in game one, taking the Colonels to extra frames but several late fielding errors cost Hazleton a chance to walk out on top. Wilkes responded with runs in the 7th and 8th innings, leading to a 5-4 win over the Lions before sweeping Hazleton in game two with an 8-0 win in five innings. 

Game One: Penn State Hazleton 4, Wilkes University 5 - Final, 8 Innings

Wilkes started off the game with three hits and a sacrifice fly off Hazleton freshman Hattie Flood (Blairs Mills, Pa.) to take a quick 2-0 lead but that would be all of the earned runs Flood would surrender on the day. Flood settled in shut down the Colonels over their next four trips on offense allowing the Nittany Lions stay close until the bats heated up. That came in the top of the fourth inning when Hazleton took advantage of two errors by the Wilkes squad that put runners at second and third base with just one out in the inning. Junior Linsey Fisk (Millville, Pa.) went on to score the first run of the game for Hazleton and moments later, freshman Erin Field (Lewisburg, Pa.) hit a bunt single to score junior Jess Lepore (Telford, Pa.) and knot the score at two runs each. After a clean sheet for both teams in the fifth inning, moved ahead on an RBI double by Athena Matenkoski (Drums, Pa.) in the sixth inning. Matenkoski drove the ball off the fence in right center field, allowing Erin Field to score from first base and giving the Lions a 3-2 lead. But Wilkes responded in their next at bat, taking advantage of a pair of throwing by the Nittany Lion defense. The game would go back and forth from this point on. Hazleton reclaimed the lead in the top of the seventh inning after Flood singled and scored on a Colonels error but the Lions returned the favor in the bottom half of the inning, allowing Wilkes to score the tying run after allowing the lead off hitter aboard via an error. 

Wilkes and Hazleton headed into extra innings but the Lions were unable to score the designated base runner from second base despite moving the runner over to third base with less than two outs. That left the door open for Wilkes, who promptly laid down a sacrifice bunt and Hazleton threw the ball away allowing the winning run to cross the plate. 

Despite the poor defensive finish it was a well played game for Hazleton who totaled nine hits in the contest. Hattie Flood threw all seven frames for the Lions ending the night with two earned runs allowed on nine hits and two walks. Offensively, Hazleton was led by Jess Lepore and Linsey Fisk who both finished the game 2-for-4 from the plate with a runs scored, while Erin Field went 1-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored to round out the top performers in game one. 

Game Two: Penn State Hazleton 0, Wilkes University 8 - Final, 5 Innings

Following the tough loss in game one, Hazleton came out and loaded the bases with two outs in the first inning but failed to convert the big hit to start off the second game on the right foot. Wilkes managed to retire the side and immediately went to work on offense. The Colonels connected on three hits in the bottom of the first frame, scoring a pair of runs and followed that effort by cashing in three runs on two Hazleton errors along with three more hits in the second inning. Leading 5-0, the Wilkes squad stranded nine Hazleton base runners in the first four innings of play, posting zeros on the board until the bottom of the fifth inning. Wilkes loaded the bases with one out and proceeded to knock in score three runs with hits in their next three at bats, ending the game 8-0 via the mercy rule. 

In the shortened game, four Nittany Lions collected hits in the loss. Athena Matenkoski and freshman Tiffany Brogan (Shickshinny, Pa.) both finished 1-for-1 with a walk while sophomore Ashley Wilson (East Stroudsburg, Pa.) and sophomore Tori Rabuck (Tower City, Pa.) registered one hit each. Sophomore Paige Perisi (North Wales, Pa.) tossed four and two thirds of an inning in the circle for Hazleton, allowing four earned runs on 11 hits and two walks. 

Next up: With weather on the horizon for the weekend, Friday's double-header with Penn State Beaver will be played on Sunday, April 2 at 12:00 p.m. at Hazleton Area High School. The Saturday series with Penn State Greater Allegheny has been postponed until a later date.