MIDDLETOWN, Pa. – On two separate occasions on Thursday afternoon, Mar. 20, Penn State Harrisburg put together final inning rallies against the visitors from Eastern. Both times, however, the late game pushes fell just short as the ladies dropped both outings to the Eagles; a 5-4 decision in the opener and an 8-5 defeat in the nightcap.
Eastern jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first game thanks to two unearned runs in the top of the first inning. After Penn State Harrisburg starting pitcher Gabrielle Wolfe (New Milford, Pa. / Blue Ridge) sat down the Eagles 1-2-3 in the top of the second, the visitors added another run to their total in the top of the third. They added a fourth run, the third unearned run of the contest, in the top of the fourth stanza.
The Lions picked up their first hit and their first run in the bottom of the fourth when sophomore Jackie Furch (Hallstead, Pa. / Blue Ridge) reached base thanks to interference by the Eastern catcher and freshman Leah Palm (Hummelstown, Pa. / Lower Dauphin) drove her in when she laced a double to left center field.
Wolfe again sat down the Eagles in order in both the top of the fifth and sixth innings before Eastern added a fifth and final run due to a Penn State Harrisburg error in the top of the seventh.
Junior Mackenzie Trafka (Middletown, Pa. / Middletown Area) sparked the Blue & White in the bottom of the seventh when she led off the stanza with a double to right field. Sophomore Keriann Saich (Hershey, Pa. / Hershey) moved her to third base with a sacrifice fly and sophomore Jasmine Yanich (Harrisburg, Pa. / Susquehanna Township) laid down a perfect bunt that resulted in a base hit and scored Trafka. Wolfe followed it up with a double to deep center field that plated Yanich from first base before sophomore Rieley Loch (Madison Township, Pa. / North Pocono) doubled to drive in Wolfe and pull the Lions to within one run.
Unfortunately for the home team, their comeback chances ended with a groundout to the pitcher. Yanich was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored while Wolfe, Loch and Palm all drove in runs as well. Wolfe threw a complete seven inning game and allowed seven hits and just one earned run in addition to striking out four batters.
The second game saw Eastern strike first once again when another unearned run gave the visitors a 1-0 advantage in the top of the third inning.
This time, however, the Lions answered right back in the bottom of the stanza. Yanich singled to third base before using her blazing speed to steal second. Wolfe singled to right field and moved Yanich along to third and a groundout by freshman Kayla Seyfert (Lebanon, Pa. / Cedar Crest) drove in the speedster and tied the score. Loch followed it up with a single up the middle that plated Wolfe to give the Blue & White its first lead of the day at 2-1.
Errors and unearned runs reared their ugly heads in the top of the sixth inning, however, when the visitors reclaimed the advantage thanks to two Penn State Harrisburg miscues. The Eagles scored six runs in the frame, five of which were unearned, and jumped back out to a 7-2 lead. Eastern added an insurance run in the seventh, once again unearned, and took a 8-2 advantage into the bottom of the stanza.
Penn State Harrisburg refused to go quietly. Palm reached base thanks to an Eastern error and Trafka laced another double to left field. Yanich singled to shortstop and plated Palm on the play before swiping her second bag of the game moments later. Wolfe singled up the middle, scored Yanich and advanced to second base before being tagged out trying to take third base, cutting the Lions' deficit to 8-5.
For the second straight time, however, the Blue & White's last inning comeback proved just too little too late.
Yanich again went 2-3 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI while Wolfe went 2-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Loch was 2-3 and drove in a run. Freshman pitcher Amanda Hartman (Reading, Pa. / Oley Valley) went five solid innings inside the circle and allowed five hits and just one earned run. Furch threw the final two innings. Despite giving up five runs, none of them were earned. She also struck out three batters.
The second defeat of the afternoon dropped Penn State Harrisburg to 5-5 on the young season. The ladies will look to get back to their winning ways when they host Stevenson in non-conference doubleheader action this Sunday afternoon, Mar. 23. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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Photos courtesy of Penn State Harrisburg photographer Victoria Masse