STEVENSON, Md. – Long before the weather started wreaking havoc with field conditions during Penn State Harrisburg's non-conference doubleheader matchup with Stevenson on Sunday afternoon, Mar. 2, the Lions put themselves in a precarious situation of their own making thanks to a combined 13 walks and two errors over the course of both contests. The hometown Mustangs took full advantage of the Blue & White mistakes en route to a two-game sweep; a 10-2 victory in the first outing and a 4-1 win in game number two.
Despite the balmy temperatures, Stevenson got off to a hot start in the opener and took an early 2-0 lead when Kevin Wu hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning.
Penn State Harrisburg sophomore Bryan Balshy (Palmyra, Pa. / Palmyra Area) began the top of the second with the team's first hit of the day, a single back up the middle off the Mustangs' Greg Meyers. Unfortunately, the Lions struggled offensively and left him stranded at first base.
Stevenson took advantage of three walks and two Blue & White errors in the bottom of the second inning, scoring four more runs on just two hits to up the home team's advantage to 6-0. The Mustangs continued their solid play and managed to score one run in the bottom of the third and another in the bottom of the fourth.
The Lions finally got something going in the top of the fifth stanza when sophomore Eric Hoover (Hershey, Pa. / Hershey) walked to lead off the inning and junior John Cataldo (Pine Grove, Pa. / Pine Grove) singled through the left side to move him into scoring position. Junior Cody Henry (Halifax, Pa. / Halifax) laid down a bunt up the first base line that Meyers failed to handle and reached safely to load the bases. Senior Travis Crammer (Cerritos, Cal. / Cerritos) drove in the team's first run when his sacrifice fly to deep right field scored Hoover. Unfortunately for the Blue & White, the next two batters struck out to end the threat.
Penn State Harrisburg added a second run in the top of the sixth when Cataldo singled to left center and scored freshman Tyler Smink (Harleysville, Pa. / North Penn) from second base.
Cataldo went 2-2 with two singles, an RBI and a walk while junior Jim Quinn (Thornton, Pa. / Garnet Valley) went 1-2 and hit his second triple of the young season. Hoover was 1-2 with a walk and a run scored while Crammer added an RBI.
The doubleheader's second game saw the Lions again fall behind in the first inning. After the Mustangs worked three-straight walks, number five hitter Scott Merkel hit a grand slam that just cleared the fence and gave Stevenson a 4-0 lead.
The Lions appeared to have something in the works in the top of the third when freshman Tom Denniston (Harrisburg, Pa. / Bishop McDevitt) singled to left to lead off the inning and Crammer followed it up with an infield single to third base. When junior Jim Murphy (Drexel Hill, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) laid down a perfect bunt for hit to load the bases, it looked like Penn State Harrisburg was in business. Senior Colton Houseal (Maytown, Pa. / Donegal) grounded into a double play but scored Denniston from third to get the Blue & White on the board. Unfortunately, that's as close as they would get.
Following the top of the fifth inning, the umpires determined that the rain that had been falling for nearly an hour at that point compromised the field conditions to the point that play had to be called and the Lions fell to Stevenson after just four and a half stanzas.
Denniston went 1-2 in the second outing with a single and a run scored. Crammer was 2-3 and Hoover notched the team's fourth hit of the game.
After walking three in the first inning, freshman starter Nate Packer (Waymart, Pa. / Western Wayne) settled in and pitched well over the final three innings, allowing just two more hits and striking out a Mustang batter.
The pair of losses dropped Penn State Harrisburg to 1-3 on the year. The Lions begin all-important Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) play this Wednesday, Mar. 5 when they head even further south to take on Marymount (Va.) in single game action.
Follow us on Twitter - @PSHbgAthletics
Follow us on Facebook – group name PSHathletics