HARRISONBURG, Va. – For the first time since beginning NCAA play, Penn State Harrisburg won its season opener by picking up a 6-3 victory in game one of a doubleheader against Eastern Mennonite on Thursday afternoon, Feb. 27. The Lions racked up 11 hits in their win over the hosts before errors doomed the Blue & White in their 13-5 defeat at the hands of the Royals in the second go around.
Penn State Harrisburg got strong outings from junior starting pitcher Will Chaney (Lancaster, Pa. / Lampeter Strasburg) and fellow junior in reliever Tom Chaney (Lancaster, Pa. / Lampeter Strasburg). The brothers' Chaney combined to throw a complete seven inning contest with Will pitching four innings, allowing six hits and just two earned runs in addition to striking out three batters en route to his first victory of the year while Tom struck out two batters over three innings and allowed four hits and no earned runs.
Designated hitter Colton Houseal (Maytown, Pa. / Donegal) started his senior season with a bang when he homered to left center field in the top of the first inning, driving in junior Jim Murphy (Drexel Hill, Pa. / Monsignor Bonner) and giving the Lions an early 2-0 lead in the process.
The Blue & White added to their advantage in the top of the second when junior catcher Jim Quinn (Thornton, Pa. / Garnet Valley) tripled to right center field before scoring when freshman Tom Denniston (Harrisburg, Pa. / Bishop McDevitt) singled to left field two batters later. Senior Travis Crammer (Cerritos, Cal. / Cerritos) drove in Denniston by doubling to left field and scored when Murphy singled up the middle one at-bat later. Penn State Harrisburg led 5-0 after two innings of play.
Eastern Mennonite got on the board in the bottom of the third thanks to a Jonathan Estrada sacrifice fly and a Ryan Hedrick double to right center field but the Lions answered back in the top of the fourth stanza when sophomore Bryan Balshy (Palmyra, Pa. / Palmyra Area) picked up an RBI when his single up the middle scored Murphy from second base.
The home team added a run late in the seventh but the Royals' Griffin Stanley was caught stealing when Quinn corralled a ball in the dirt and fired down to junior John Cataldo (Pine Grove, Pa. / Pine Grove) at third base for the putout.
Murphy went 2-2 with two runs scored, an RBI and a walk while Houseal was 2-4 with the home run, two RBIs and a run scored. Denniston was 2-3 with an RBI and a run scored. In addition to Quinn and Crammer's extra base hits, freshman Troy Taber (Park Ridge, N.J. / Park Ridge) doubled as well.
The Lions again jumped out to an early lead in the nightcap when Balshy singled to left field and drove in Murphy in the top of the first inning. When the Royals tied the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the first, Penn State Harrisburg had an answer when Crammer's two-out single to center field drove in Denniston from third base and gave the Blue & White a 2-1 advantage heading into the bottom of the second.
But Eastern Mennonite used two singles, two Penn State Harrisburg errors and a hit by pitch and a couple of stolen bases to score four runs in the home half of the second. The Royals added to their lead when a Justin Rodriguez double down the left field line scored Estrada and Jonathan Mathews in the bottom of the third and increased the home team's advantage to 7-2.
Penn State Harrisburg refused to roll over and tried to cut into the deficit thanks to RBI singles by Houseal, Balshy and Crammer in the top of the fifth and sixth innings. Unfortunately for the visitors, the Royals built a large enough lead by taking advantage of the Lions' four errors that the Blue & White rally proved too little too late.
Balshy was 3-5 in game number two with two RBIs and a double. Crammer went 2-5 with two RBIs and a run scored. Denniston worked two walks and scored two runs.
Penn State Harrisburg junior starter Clint Hicks (State College, Pa. / State College) pitched the game's first four innings, allowing seven hits and four earned runs in addition to striking out three batters. The freshman pair of Nate Packer (Waymart, Pa. / Western Wayne) and Cody Dakin (Newport, N.C. / West Carteret) finished out the game, throwing a combined four innings, allowing five hits and five earned runs to go along with their four strikeouts.
The split leaves Penn State Harrisburg at 1-1 on the year. Weather permitting, the Lions will next be in action this Sunday at Stevenson for another doubleheader. First pitch is schedule for 12 p.m.
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