MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – Were you expecting something else? During a year in which we witnessed so many unforgettable Penn State Harrisburg sports moments, it's the Blue & White baseball team's accomplishments that stand out amongst the rest. Last week, we highlighted Travis Crammer's (Cerritos, Pa. / Cerritos) three home run afternoon. Yesterday, we relived Derek Slagle's (York Haven, Pa. / Red Land) perfect game. As great as those individual performances were, our number one spot is all about the team.
That's right. We've reached the top spot on Penn State Harrisburg's list of the ten most memorable moments from the 2012-13 Winter/Spring sports seasons. The baseball team alone provided us with half a dozen historic choices. In addition to Crammer's multi-homer outing and Slagle's flawless no-no (the first in school history), the Lions won their first-ever North Eastern Athletic Conference (NEAC) championship, earned an automatic NCAA tournament berth, recorded a program-record 26 victories and won 16 straight games, the longest such streak in school history. So what exactly ranks higher than the rest? You know what; we'll let you make that call.
The Lions entered their contest with Stevenson on Mar. 30 at 7-9 on the year. They didn't taste defeat for another 21 days. Penn State Harrisburg's 23-14 regular season record earned the team the number three seed in the NEAC title tournament that took place the first weekend of May. The Blue & White avenged two late season losses to Penn State Abington by throttling the tourney's number two seed 9-1 in its first matchup before holding off defending conference champion Penn State Berks 4-3 to advance to the title game.
Penn State Berks knocked off top-seeded Gallaudet in the semifinal round to set up the spring's fourth meeting between the opposing Lions, this time for all the marbles. Trailing 3-0 entering the fourth inning, Penn State Harrisburg's offense roared to life in the top half of the stanza. Freshman third baseman Clay Thrasher (Hummelstown, Pa. / Lower Dauphin) got things rolling with a single up the middle. Sophomore catcher Tim Gonzalez (Whittier, Calif. / St. Paul) moved him to second base with a single down the left field line and sophomore shortstop John Cataldo's (Pine Grove, Pa. / Pine Grove) ensuing sacrifice bunt advanced both runners. A wild pitch allowed Thrasher to score and Gonzalez to move along to third before tournament MVP Dalton Trolinger's (Carlisle, Pa. / Cumberland Valley) single up the middle plated him and cut the deficit to 3-2. After Crammer (Cerritos, Calif. / Cerritos) and junior Colton Houseal (Maytown, Pa. / Donegal) reached base, sophomore Branden Rutt (Ephrata, Pa. / Ephrata) tied the game with a single through the right side that scored Crammer from second and moved Houseal to third. Freshman Bryan Balshy (Palmyra, Pa. / Palmyra) came through with a man in scoring position when he singled to left field and drove-in the game-winning run in Houseal.
In addition to the trophy, the conference showered the Lions with individual accolades as well. Five Penn State Harrisburg players earned all-conference status, including the NEAC Rookie of the Year and second-team all-conference honoree in Balshy. Crammer was voted to the all-conference first team while Houseal and pitcher Jim Klingerman (Telford, Pa. / Souderton) earned second-team all-conference status. Branden Rutt was voted to the league's all-conference third team.
The 2013 season was a magical one for the Penn State Harrisburg baseball team. First-year head coach Ryan Bown led the Lions out of the shadow of two forgettable seasons (five wins in 2011, seven in 2012) and into the light of a successful present and a promising future. Which singular moment deserves the countdown crown? It's too close to call. One thing is certain, however. We'll be talking about the Lions' 2013 campaign for years to come.
And just like that it's all over. We'd like to thank you for looking back over some of the most memorable Penn State Harrisburg athletics moments from the past year. We hope you enjoyed reminiscing as much as we did.
Now that we're done looking into the past, let's take a look at what's on deck (fitting, huh?). Penn State Harrisburg's 2013-14 athletics schedule kicks off (literally) this Friday when the women's soccer team hosts Delaware Valley under the lights this Friday night, Aug. 30. The women's volleyball team takes part in Gettysburg's Battlefield Classic on Friday and Saturday and our men's soccer team gets its season going on Saturday afternoon at Elmira.
Be sure to come out and support all of our athletics teams this year and check out our social media outlets following every contest - like us on Facebook, group name "PSHathletics," and follow us on Twitter @PSHathletics. Let's face it. After reliving some of the best moments 2012-13 had to offer, how can you resist?