CRESSON, Pa. – Penn State Altoona baseball picked up a split in Friday afternoon's Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference doubleheader against Pitt-Bradford, hosted at Mount Aloysius College's Calandra-Smith Field.
In the teams' last regular season conference games, Pitt-Bradford won game one 10-6 before Penn State Altoona (15-18, 10-8 AMCC) posted a 24-12 victory in game two.
With the result, Pitt-Bradford (16-14, 10-8 AMCC) clinches the number four seed in the upcoming AMCC Tournament, while Penn State Altoona takes the fifth seed. The Lions will travel to Pitt-Bradford for an AMCC Tournament first round, best-of-three series starting this Sunday, May 6. Game times have not yet been set.
In game one, Penn State Altoona got off to a sluggish start, allowing Pitt-Bradford to jump ahead 5-0 en route to the Panthers' 10-6 win.
Austin Anderson (Macungie, PA/Emmaus) led the Lions at the plate in the first game by going 2-for-4 with a triple, a double, three runs batted in, and one run scored. Chase Clouser (Dublin, OH/Dublin Jerome) was also 2-for-4 with a triple and a run scored.
Zane Leister (Middleburg, PA/Midd-West) started for the Lions and pitched one inning, giving up one earned run and striking out two while taking the loss. Aaron Smith (Duncansville, PA/Hollidaysburg) tossed two innings while surrendering two earned runs, and Oliver Dailey (Boalsburg, PA/State College) followed with one inning and two earned runs. Sawyer Kline (Bellwood, PA/Bellwood-Antis) pitched 1 2/3 innings with three earned runs and three strikeouts, and Jacob Plunket (Altoona, PA/Altoona) tossed the final 1/3 inning.
Pitt-Bradford grabbed a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Jay Clinger hit an RBI single and Dalton Renn scored on an outfield error. The Panthers made it 5-0 in the second, getting an Austin Hoops RBI double to right, a Sawyer Packard RBI groundout to second, and an Austin Parent solo homer to center.
Penn State Altoona got on the board in the top of the fifth, using Anderson's two-run triple to right and Jim Shomberg's (Lansdale, PA/Methacton) RBI single to right to cut Pitt-Bradford's lead to 5-3.
But Pitt-Bradford responded with four runs in the bottom of the fifth. After a wild pitch allowed Packard to score, Clinger's three-run home run to right put the Panthers ahead 9-3.
Pitt-Bradford put another run on the board in the bottom of the sixth, when Parent hit his second home run of the game, a solo shot to left. The Lions picked up their final run in the top of the seventh on Anderson's RBI double down the right field line.
In game two, Penn State Altoona got a gutsy pitching performance from Jordan McCall (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg). With the first round of the playoffs looming, McCall pitched a complete game in just his second collegiate appearance on the mound. The right-hander tossed nine innings, allowed nine earned runs, and struck out five batters to pick up his first career win.
Meawhile, Andrew Culp (Oxford, PA/Oxford) and Michaelis had banner performances with the bats. Culp went 4-for-6 with four RBI, two runs scored, and a walk, while Michaelis was also 4-for-6 with a double, two runs scored, and one RBI.
Shomberg hit 3-for-5 with two doubles, three runs scored, two RBI, and a stolen base. Justin Virga (Port Jefferson Station, NY/Comsewogue) finished 3-for-4 with three RBI, a run scored, and a walk, and Anderson went 3-for-6 with a home run, a double, five runs scored, one RBI, and one walk.
George Stiuso (Milford, NJ/Gill St. Bernard's) batted 2-for-6 with a home run, a double, four RBI, and three runs scored. Matt Cody (Mechanicsburg, PA/Mechanicsburg) was 2-for-2 with a double and three RBI.
Penn State Altoona set a new team record for the most doubles in a game, as the Lions hit nine doubles in game two. Additionally, the team's total of 24 hits was the fourth-most in a game in program history.
The Lions and Panthers traded runs in the second inning. In the top half of the inning, Virga's RBI single to center put Penn State Altoona on the board. In the bottom half of the inning, Joshua Zelinski's RBI double tied the game.
Penn State Altoona put three on the board in the third, using Shomberg's RBI double to right-center and Culp's two-run single to center to jump ahead 4-1. The Lions made it 8-1 in the top of the fourth, getting another RBI single from Shomberg to start the scoring in the inning. A throwing error allowed Anderson to come home from third, and another error scored Shomberg. Culp's RBI single to center made it a seven-run game.
Pitt-Bradford used the long ball to answer with four runs of their own in the bottom of the fourth. Zelinski's three-run homer to right-center and Tyler Hoops' solo shot cut the Lions' lead to 8-5.
But Penn State Altoona kept the offense coming, plating five more runs in the top of the fifth. Anderson hit a solo home run, his second of the year, to spark the inning. Later, the Lions took advantage of Breon's RBI double to left, Culps run-scoring single up the middle, and Virga's two RBI base hit to center to make it 13-5. Penn State Altoona tacked on two more runs in the top of the sixth, when Stiuso hit a two-run homer to increase his team's lead to 15-5. The home run was Stiuso's fourth of the season, tying for the team lead.
Pitt-Bradford got two runs in the bottom of the sixth when Robert Sawicki scored on an error and Nick Blovsky drove in a run with his groundout.
But the Lions continued to pour it on in the seventh. James Mays' (Dyer, IN/Lake Central) RBI double to right and Sawyer Duffey's (Waynesboro, PA/Waynesboro) sac fly to center got two runs across. Later, Stiuso's two-run, ground-rule double, Cody's RBI single to right, and Michaelis' sac fly upped Penn State Altoona's advantage to 21-7. The Lions scored three more runs in the top of the eighth on an Aidan Plants (Montoursville, PA/Montoursville) sac fly to right and a Cody two RBI double to right-center.
Pitt-Bradford closed out the scoring with three runs in the bottom of the eighth and another run in the bottom of the ninth. In the eighth, the Panthers got a sac fly from Sawyer Packard, an RBI single from Parent, and a two-run base hit to center from Brody Wood. In the ninth, Colin Buckwalter scored on a wild pitch.
Next, Penn State Altoona baseball advances to the first round of the AMCC Tournament, qualifying for the league's postseason tournament for the second season in a row. The Lions face Pitt-Bradford in a re-match for a best-of-three series, with the game start times to-be-announced. The schedule is set for two games to occur on Sunday, with a third game happening on Monday if necessary.
Notes: Penn State Altoona baseball recognized its two senior players, Shomberg and Michaelis, in a pregame Senior Day ceremony.