LHU Bald Eagles get sweep over Shippensburg University
By BILL ALBRIGHT
Express Sports Writer
LOCK HAVEN — With the teams heading toward qualifying for the PSAC postseason, Lock Haven and Shippensburg both needed to take a big step forward this weekend.
After a 7-1 mark the past two weekends, the Bald Eagles entered the first of two days in this weekend’s series with the Red Raiders with an 8-8 mark. At 8-8, the Bald Eagles are only two games out of second place in the standings as Bloomsburg, East Stroudsburg and West Chester all sport an identical 10-6 log.
On the other hand, Ship came into the weekend with a conference mark of 6-10, two games behind LHU.
Taking advantage of some good home cooking, and a beautiful day, the Bald Eagles dumped the Red Raiders by scores of 4-0 and 6-0 to keep their winning ways rolling along while gaining some separation from Ship.
With last week’s results, the Bald Eagles have now won nine of their last 10 games.
In the first game, the Bald Eagles played one of their best, if not arguably, their cleanest game of the season.
They combined outstanding pitching with timely-situational hitting while playing errorless baseball.
Providing the work on the bump was Jesse Slinger, the righthander bouncing back after a sub-par outing against Millersville last week. Slinger scattering seven hits while striking out four and walking one.
“Slinger was hitting his spots today, scattering their hits to keep us out of danger,” said LHU head coach Heath “Smoke” Stover. “We made the routine plays and he got the out when he needed it. We were able to execute on offense to score some runs. You never know what is going to happen to you throughout a game, but today we executed really well in both games.”
As for the possibility of playoffs, Stover knows that his troops can pretty much control their own destiny if they continue to win.
“If you keep winning good things are going to happen,” Stover said. “If we can do that we can possibly get a real good shot at least by that last series. That is what most teams shoot, just to be in it. If they can do that, it makes things really exciting.”
The sign of a good pitcher is his ability to make adjustments on the fly and Slinger was able to do that. With his fastball and curve doing the job over five innings, Slinger further kept the Raiders off balance down the stretch by mixing in his changeup.
“Today I was more focused on just going at hitters to get my stuff working early,” said Slinger. “I got my breaking ball going early and I was able to work my fastball off of it. Later in the game, I was able to work in my changeup and as long as I stayed ahead of hitters, everything went my way. When you are able to change speeds and get things going later, it confuses hitters. Today I was able to go to all three of my pitches at different speeds and that can cause havoc with the batters.”
The Bald Eagles scored what would turn out to be the only run they would need for the win in the first inning.
Liam McArthur walked, stole second, moved to third on a Ship error and scooted home on an RBI groundout by Jimmy Webb.
With the 1-0 LHU lead holding up through the first four innings, and Slinger in command, the Bald Eagles all but put the game away in the fifth when they manufactured a crooked number “3” to take a 4-0 lead.
John Banes singled to left, was sacrificed to second by Colby Hiddemen and scored on a Shippensburg error.
With one out, Demetrius Haskins singled to center and McArthur followed suit with an RBI single to center. One out later, Max Joseph got into the hit parade when he chased McArthur home with an RBI single to short.
With one win in the books, it was Scott Leitholf’s turn to strut his stuff and he did it in fine fashion. For his complete game, Leitholf allowed the Raiders just three hits, walking two and striking out eight.
Offensively for the Bald Eagles, McArthur and Banes each drove in two runs and recorded one hit.
Joe Zgleszewski led the team offensively by going 3-for-4 while also scoring two runs. Hiddemen and Demetrius Haskins each notched two hits to help pace The Haven offense.