MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Resiliency was on display during Penn State Harrisburg's senior day doubleheader against North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) foe Penn State Abington on Saturday, Apr. 21. Despite valiant comeback efforts in both outings, the Lions twice fell just short, dropping a 7-6 heartbreaker in the opener and a 10-7 decision in game two.
Four seniors were honored during the pre-game ceremonies. TJ Houseal (Maytown, PA/Donegal), Mark Chimel (Middletown, PA/Middletown), John Robison (Harrisburg, PA/Susquehanna Township) and John Berry (Dunmore, PA/Dunmore) received warm ovations from their teammates, coaches and the hometown crowd.
Aside from a couple of hits from both squads, things were quiet early. But Abington changed that in the top of the third inning. The visitors used four hits and a Penn State Harrisburg error to bring four runs across and take a sizeable, early lead.
The opposing Lions picked up two more runs in the next stanza and appeared to have the game well in hand.
Until the home team's bats woke up that is.
Dalton Trolinger (Carlisle, PA/Cumberland Valley), Colton Houseal (Maytown, PA/Donegal) and Jeff Bell (Kutztown, PA/Fleetwood Area) started the bottom of the fourth with back-to-back-to-back walks before Matt Soden's (Dover, NH/Dover) two-out single drove in two runs and provided the spark the blue and white needed to get back in the game.
The Lions went back to work in the sixth. Soden picked up his third RBI of the contest when his single plated Bell and John Cataldo's (Pine Grove, PA/Pine Grove) double to right field scored Matt Ebersole (Elizabethtown, PA/Lower Dauphin) and cut the deficit to 6-4. A Dean Kanganis (Mechanicsburg, PA/Cumberland Valley) ground ball was enough to drive in Soden and draw Penn State Harrisburg within one run.
But Abington refused to roll over and Matt Lawson's (Voorhees, NJ/Eastern) seventh inning home run, his second of the afternoon, proved to be the deciding factor.
When Trolinger scored following a Bell single, Penn State Harrisburg was on the verge of completing the comeback. With two down, runners on first and second and Soden at the plate, the Lions looked poised to strike again. But it wasn't meant to be as Ebersole was picked off at first base to end the game.
Trailing 6-0, the blue and white refused to call it a day and showed plenty of heart in fighting back. Unfortunately, the Lions fell two bases short.
Soden went 2-2 at the plate and racked up a team-high three RBIs. Bell was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored while Trolinger scored a team-high three runs.
Starting pitcher Clint Hicks (State College, PA/State College) went six innings and gave up 11 hits and six earned runs to go along with his two strikeouts. Chimel made his 31st career appearance and finished the game, pitching the seventh and allowing no hits or to go along with his one strikeout.
Game two played out in a similar fashion.
Abington jumped out to an early 2-0 lead and Penn State Harrisburg clawed its way back into it in the bottom of the second.
TJ Houseal, one of the senior captains, picked up an RBI when his single scored Cataldo. The next batter, Cody Henry (Halifax, PA/Halifax), drove him in with a single that tied things up at two apiece.
The visitors got one in the third but it wasn't until the fourth that they started to break it open. Abington got four runs in the stanza to increase its lead to 7-3.
The Lions rallied again in the bottom of the fourth. TJ Houseal's triple plated Cataldo again and Henry's sacrifice fly drove him in one batter later, cutting the deficit to three runs.
After the opposing Lions got another run in the top of the sixth, Henry came through again in the bottom of the inning when he doubled and scored Ebersole and Cataldo to draw the home team to within two runs.
After the visitors got two more in the top of the seventh, the blue and white got one more in the bottom half when Ebersole's groundout brought Soden home. Unfortunately, that was all Penn State Harrisburg could muster.
Henry was 3-3 with four RBIs while TJ Houseal went 2-5 with a pair of RBIs and one run scored.
Bell went 3.2 innings on the mound and gave up eight hits and six earned runs. Jim Klingerman made the first relief appearance, going an inning and a third and giving up one hit and one walk. Derek Ward got an inning of work in and surrendered two hits and one run. Robison made his final appearance on Penn State Harrisburg's mound, pitching the seventh and giving up two hits and one earned run to go along with his one strikeout.
The pair of losses dropped the blue and white to 9-29 on the season and 3-11 in NEAC play. The game one defeat was the team's 11th one-run loss of the 2012 campaign.
Despite the close losses, the Lions showed tremendous heart and turned in performances their senior class can be proud of.
Houseal is a four-year player and centerfielder who holds school records for most games played and started (130), runs scored (126), hits (138), RBIs (63), walks (77) and stolen bases (90). Chimel is a three-year player and pitcher while Robison is a two-year relief pitcher. Chimel holds the school record for most appearances (31) and ranks second all-time in wins with five. Robison, the team's closer, is the all-time leader in games finished with 19. Berry was an infielder during the 2011 season, making two pinch-hit appearances while filling the role as team manager this spring.