MIDDLETOWN, Pa. - On Wednesday, Mar. 14, Penn State Harrisburg played its first home games of the 2012 season and split a pair with Penn College. The Lions put a 12-1 beat down on the Wildcats in the first matchup before falling to the visitors 13-7 in game two. Freshman pitcher Hunter Rowe (Halifax, PA/Halifax) was stout on the mound in the opening contest and senior center fielder TJ Houseal (Maytown, PA/Donegal) stole home three times on the afternoon, including twice in game one.
Rowe pitched a complete seven inning game and walked six batters but had a no-hitter going through six. He finally gave up his first hit of the contest early in the final stanza. It didn't diminish his stellar performance. When all was said and done, the Halifax grad picked up his first win of the spring, surrendering just three hits and one run to go along with his four strikeouts.
The blue and white struck first in the bottom of the first when Houseal stole home for the first time, busting it down the third base line and beating Zachary Yetter's (Thompsontown, PA/East Juniata) pitch to the plate. A single by junior Jeff Bell (Kutztown, PA/Fleetwood Area) later in the inning scored sophomore Dalton Trolinger (Carlisle, PA/Cumberland Valley) and made it 2-0.
While Rowe stayed strong on the mound, the Lions' offense went back to work in the bottom of the third. Bell, freshman catcher Matt Soden (Dover, NH/Dover), Houseal and freshman third baseman Daniel Samick (Frederick, MD/Frederick) all notched RBIs in the inning and Houseal stole home for a second when he and Trolinger worked a double-steal play to perfection. Sophomore right fielder Colton Houseal (Maytown, PA/Donegal), Bell, Samick, junior second baseman Dean Kanganis (Mechanicsburg, PA/Cumberland Valley), Soden, TJ Houseal, Trolinger and freshman designated hitter Isaac Polinsky (Owigsburg, PA/Blue Mountain) all crossed the plate during Penn State Harrisburg's game-changing inning. At the end of three, the Lions led 11-0.
Rowe continued to mow the Wildcats down and his defense made plays behind him. The home team picked up one more run in the sixth when Bell scored following a single by freshman shortstop John Cataldo (Pine Grove, PA/Pine Grove), giving the Lions a 12-run advantage.
Penn College got one run in the top of the seventh when Cody Buterbaugh (Conestoga, PA/Penn Manor) singled in Nicholas Fazio (Norristown, PA/Methacton) but the outcome was never in question.
For the game, Trolinger, Bell and the Houseal brothers scored two runs apiece while Samick, Soden and the eldest Houseal drove in two runs each. TJ stole a total of three bases, Trolinger stole two bags and Colton took one. Polinsky was patient at the plate and managed three walks.
Game two was a different story. The Wildcats didn't waste any time making up for their lack of scoring and put three runs on the board in the top of the first. They picked up another in the second before the Lions started to chip away.
The blue and white got one in the second stanza when a single from Cataldo scored Polinsky. They cut the deficit in half in the bottom of the third when TJ Houseal and Trolinger executed another double steal while on the corners, giving Houseal his third successful steal of home on the afternoon.
But every time the home team seemed to claw back in it, Penn College responded by adding to its lead. The Wildcats tallied three runs in the fourth, four in the sixth and two in the seventh. Despite the Lions adding five in the late innings, they failed to draw close enough to make it a game.
TJ Houseal and freshman catcher Branden Rutt (Ephrata, PA/Ephrata) scored two runs each while Cataldo drove in a team-high two runs. Polinsky, Bell and sophomore first baseman Cole Nye (Newmanstown, PA/Eastern Lebanon) drew two walks apiece.
The .500 day improved Penn State Harrisburg's overall record to 4-8 on the season. The Lions are already half way to their win total from all of last year.
Penn State Harrisburg's next game comes this Saturday, Mar. 17 when the Lions travel to Mt. Aloysius for an afternoon doubleheader. They follow it up with another non-conference doubleheader the very next day at Elizabethtown.