ALTOONA, Pa. – Penn State Altoona baseball grabbed a pair of conference wins on Friday afternoon, when the Lions swept new Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference opponent Alfred State College by scores of 13-1 and 9-6 in a doubleheader at Juniata Civic Baseball Field.
The Lions' (6-10, 3-1 AMCC) wins were highlighted by exceptional pitching, particularly from the team's relievers, along with persistent offense that produced 22 runs and 26 hits.
"Two huge wins for us today. I have to tip my hat to our bullpen. Neither starter made it very deep into either game, and we had to rely on the pen to eat up a lot of innings, and they were phenomenal," said Penn State Altoona head coach RJ Barnard. "Catcher, Jim, and Pete had big days at the plate, and as a team, we hit the ball really well. It was nice to get back outside, and hopefully these two wins will build momentum moving forward."
In game one, George Stiuso (Milford, NJ/Gill St. Bernard's) started on the mound and recorded his first win of the season. The left-hander went four innings, allowing one run on four hits and four walks while striking out six batters.
Penn State Altoona's bullpen followed Stiuso's effort with three perfect innings. Sawyer Kline (Bellwood, PA/Bellwood-Antis) pitched the fifth, Hunter Johnson (Shippensburg, PA/Shippensburg) hurled the sixth inning with two strikeouts, and Jacob Plunket (Altoona, PA/Altoona) pitched the seventh with one strikeout.
At the plate, Catcher Cumming (Altoona, PA/Altoona) batted 3-for-3 with two doubles, five runs batted in, four runs scored, and a stolen base. Cumming extended his team-leading hitting streak to 11 games.
Chase Clouser (Dublin, OH/Dublin Jerome) was 2-for-2 with a stolen base, and Peter Jacobs (Dix Hills, NY/Half Hollow Hills West) was 1-for-2 with three runs scored and two walks. Dylan Bates (Towanda, PA/Towanda) was 1-for-3 with a double, two RBI, and one walk. Austin Anderson (Macungie, PA/Emmaus) drew two walks, and Hunter Breon (Boiling Springs, PA/Boiling Springs) scored three runs and had one walk.
As a team, Penn State Altoona totaled 14 hits.
The Lions jumped on Alfred State (8-15, 3-3 AMCC) early, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Cumming's two-run double down the left field line started the scoring, and he later stole home as part of a double steal to make it 3-0.
Penn State Altoona picked up another run in the third, when Anderson's groundout to second base scored Cumming from third to increase the home team's advantage to 4-0. The Lions doubled their lead with a four-run fourth inning, getting a two-run single to left from Cumming and a two-run double to left-center from Bates.
After Connor Pingitore's RBI single in the top of the fifth put the Pioneers on the board, Penn State Altoona came back with three runs in the bottom half of the fifth. Jim Shomberg's (Lansdale, PA/Methacton) single to center drove in one run, and Cumming's double to left brought in another. Cumming later scored on a throwing error, giving the Lions an 11-1 lead.
Penn State Altoona's bats continued to produce during game two, as the Lions totaled 12 hits. Jacobs was 4-for-5 with a home run, a double, four RBI, and three runs scored. Shomberg hit 3-for-4 with a home run, three RBI, and one run scored. Breon finished 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored, and one RBI. Anderson drew two more walks.
Aaron Sharp (Freeburg, PA/Midd-West) started on the mound and took a no decision, pitching 2 2/3 innings and giving up two earned runs while striking out two.
Kline entered in relief and went on to record his first collegiate victory, pitching 4 2/3 innings and limiting Alfred State to two runs while striking out five batters. Tyler Manger (Lindenhurst, NY/Lindenhurst) tossed 1 2/3 innings, giving up one hit and one run while striking out one batter to pick up his second save of the season.
Alfred State scored in the top of the first on Pingitore's RBI double to left, but Penn State Altoona answered with three runs in the bottom of the first. After Breon's RBI double to left tied the game, Shomberg followed with a two-run homer to right to put the Lions ahead 3-1. The home run was Shomberg's third of the season.
The Pioneers cut into the Lions' lead in the top of the second, when Danny Doran's bases loaded walk narrowed the gap to 3-2. But Penn State Altoona again countered with three runs in the bottom of the inning, when Jacobs hit his second home run of the season, a three-run shot to center that put the home team up 6-2.
Alfred State stayed in the game by picking up a run in both the third and fourth innings. In the third, David Zuber scored on an error, and he stole home in the fourth to bring the Lions' lead back down to two runs, 6-4.
But Penn State Altoona plated two big runs in the bottom of the fifth. Shomberg's RBI single up the middle and Cumming's RBI single to left extended the Lions' lead to 8-4.
Pingitore's RBI hit to right-center in the sixth got another run on the board for Alfred State, but the Lions got that run back in the eighth on Jacobs' RBI hit to shortstop.
Zuber led off the top of the ninth with a home run to left, but that closed the book on the scoring, as Penn State Altoona broke out the broomsticks.
Lions baseball is scheduled to return to action this Monday, April 9 for a home doubleheader against AMCC opponent Pitt-Greensburg. That doubleheader is set to be played at Mount Aloysius College, with game one starting at 1:00 p.m.