LHU baseball gives the broom treatment to Kutztown
By BILL ALBRIGHT
Express Sports Writer
LOCK HAVEN — Over the years, the Lock Haven University and Kutztown University baseball teams have waged a number of battles on the diamond, and Saturday at Watkins Field, the two teams put on display two more of those hotly-contested games.
In the first game of the twin bill, the Bald Eagles overcame a 3-1 deficit for a 5-3 win before the two teams engaged in a wild-and-wooly battle in the nightcap that resulted in an 18-14 LHU win and the sweep of the doubleheader.
After a 1-1 result in Friday’s doubleheader in Kutztown, the Bald Eagles wound up the weekend with a 3-1 advantage over the Golden Bears. That 3-1 result, coupled with a 4-0 sweep of Mansfield last weekend, has now allowed the Bald Eagles to even their season mark at 15-15-1 as they head down the final stretch of the 2019 campaign.
“If you split on the road and sweep at home you are going to be in good shape at the end of the season,” said LHU head coach Heath “Smoke” Stover. “Today was an exciting day and definitely an interesting day. These last two weekends have given us life to do some good things down the stretch. We are learning how to battle and win ball games. Sometimes you go through a season and you don’t know how to win and there are those times you might not know how to handle winning. Now I feel we are at the point where we know how to come back and win ball games and that can be very important for us down the stretch.”
In the first game, LHU scored a run in the bottom of the first on an RBI single by Joe Zgleszewski, but Kutztown came back to score all three of its runs in the second to take a 3-1 lead.
The Bald Eagles crept closer to the Bears with a single run in the second on an RBI single by Colby Hiddemen before they closed out the game scoring in the fourth, with a three-spot highlighted by an RBI groundout by Liam McArthur and bases-loaded RBI walks issued to Zgleszewski and Isaac Porter.
After somewhat of a shaky start, Ross Mintzer (4-2) settled in to pitch well down the stretch, the righthander working six innings of one-hit ball, allowed three runs while walking a pair and striking out four. Dillon Good came on to pitch a strong seventh inning to earn his third save of the year.
The game featured no less than eight hit batsmen on the down side, but on the up side, the Bald Eagle defense turned a pair of nifty double plays to stay out of trouble.
In the nightcap, KU scored four runs to get out of the blocks in a hurry in the first inning, but the Bald Eagles countered with five of their own. Highlighting the LHU offensive assault was a grand slam home run by John Banes.
Threatening to blow the game wide open and run away with a win, the Golden Bears scored four more in the second and two in each of the third and fourth to take a seemingly comfortable 12-5 lead.
But hold the phone because on a day when not too much that happened was comfortable, the Bald Eagles flapped their wings and all but flew away as they sent 17 men to the plate and came away with 13 runs to open an 18-12 lead.
Jimmy Webb smacked a two-run double down the left field line, Zgleszewski and Reagan Lawlor each followed with RBI singles, and after battling back from the huge deficit to take a 14-12 lead, that set the table for first baseman Isaac Porter to deliver the back-breaker.
With the Bears still hanging around, Porter took matters in his own hands as the former Central Mountain standout picked on a letter high fastball and hit a bodacious, no-doubt-about-it home run to left field to all but seal the deal.
“The second game was one where you thought they (Kutztown) might have it locked up, but then we came up with a bloop and blast, a hit batsman or two, a couple of walks and I think they dropped a fly ball in the outfield and when that happens you are right back in it,” said Stover. “Pros don’t make those little mistakes, but this is college baseball and those things happen once in a while. When that happened today, it gave us life and enthusiasm to get back into the ball game and we were fortunate enough to score thirteen runs in one inning. When that happens, it should win you a ball game every time.”
As they say, hitting is contagious and for the Bald Eagles, that might have been the case in crucial situations down the stretch.
“At this level of Division II and PSAC baseball, when one guy hits it many times the next man can also do it,” said Stover. “If that happens, it doesn’t matter who is on the bump. You can have one of the top pitchers in the league out there and those things can still happen. You get a bloop, the next guy hits a gap shot and then when you get the long ball, it can escalate real fast.”
During the game, there was a lot of chirping and trash-talking between the two clubs and after Porter’s bomb, things got a little dicey before cooler heads prevailed to finish the game.
Lock Haven 5, Kutztown 3
Kutztown 030 000 0 — 3 2 0
Lock Haven 110 300 x -5 6 1
M. Hunter, G. Already (4) and C. Teschko. Ross Mintzer, Dillon Good (7) and Joe Zgleszewski. W: Mintzer (4-2). L: Hunter (0-1). S: Good (3).
Top Lock Haven hitters: John Banes 2-2, 2 runs.
Lock Haven 18, Kutztown 14
Kutztown 442 200 2 — 14 13 3
Lock Haven 500 (13)00 x — 18 15 2
G. Fogarty, A. Clelveland (4), Z. Moretski (4) and Jeff Charles, Ryan Weller, C. Teschko. Avery Eddy, Colby Hiddeman (2), Santino Nave (4) and Max Joseph. W: Nave (1-0). L: Fogarty (1-3).
Top Kutztown hitters: Bo Rottet 3-5, 2B, 2 RBIs, 3 runs; N. Lafferty 2-3, 2B, RBI, run; Jeff Charles 2-3, RBI, run; Z. Moretski, 2B; Andy Blum, 3B. Top Lock Haven hitters: Liam McArthur 2-2, 2B, RBI, 3 runs; Joe Zgleszewski 3-4, 2 RBIs, 3 runs; Isaac Porter 3-4, HR, 3 RBIs, 2 runs; Reagan Lawlor 3-5, 2 RBIs, 2 runs; John Banes, HR; Jimmy Webb 2-3, 2B, 3 RBIs, 3 runs.
Records: Kutztown (4-22, 3-12 PSAC), Lock Haven (15-15-1, 8-8 PSAC).