AUBURNDALE, Fla. – In its first games of the 2018 RussMatt Central Florida Invitational on Saturday, the Penn State Altoona baseball team was swept in a doubleheader against Montclair State University at Lake Myrtle Park.
In game one, Penn State Altoona (1-3) came out on the losing end of a pitchers' duel, falling 1-0. In game two, the Lions were downed 11-1.
"Not the start we were hoping for to start spring break. We really struggled with the bats all day. When you score one run in two games, you don't really give yourself a chance to win," said Penn State Altoona head coach RJ Barnard. "Aaron Sharp was outstanding in the 1-0 loss in the opener, and it's a shame that we had to lose that game. Going forward, we need to get better in all aspects of the game if we expect to be successful while we're here."
In game one of the twinbill, Aaron Sharp (Freeburg, PA/Midd-West) pitched five innings for Penn State Altoona, allowing just three hits and one run while walking seven and striking out nine batters. Tyler Manger (Lindenhurst, NY/Lindenhurst) pitched one scoreless inning in relief, walking one and striking out one.
But the Lions' exceptional pitching performance was overshadowed by a lack of production at the plate, where the team was limited to just three hits, all of which were single. Chris Michaelis (Albany, NY/Albany) went 1-for-2, and Dylan Bates (Towanda, PA/Towanda) and George Stiuso (Milford, NJ/Gill St. Bernard's) each went 1-for-3.
Montclair State (4-2) manufactured the game's only run in the bottom of the first inning. Joe Norton led off the frame with a walk before stealing second and third. Ian Lynch's groundout to second scored Norton, plating the only run that the Red Hawks would need in their 1-0 victory.
In game two, Penn State Altoona was again limited to just three hits. Catcher Cumming (Altoona, PA/Altoona) went 1-for-2 with a double and a run scored. Justin Virga (Port Jefferson Station, NY/Comsewogue) was also 1-for-2, and Peter Jacobs (Dix Hills, NY/Half Hollow Hills West) was 1-for-3. Matt Cody (Mechanicsburg, PA/Mechanicsburg) had the Lions' lone run batted in.
Bates got the start on the bump for the Lions, pitching five innings and taking his first loss of the season. Aaron Smith (Duncansville, PA/Hollidaysburg) tossed 1/3 inning, and Hunter Johnson (Shippensburg, PA/Shippensburg) 1 2/3 innings of one-hit ball with four strikeouts.
Montclair State posted a four-run top of the second inning to take another early lead. Brody Labbe's two-run single up the middle opened the scoring, and Justin Bates' RBI single up the middle made it 3-0. Labbe scored on a wild pitch for the Red Hawks' fourth run of the inning.
In the bottom half of the second, Penn State Altoona got on the board when Cumming led off the inning with a double down the left field line and later came home on Cody's RBI groundout to the shortstop.
But Montclair State continued scoring runs, while keeping the Lions off of the scoreboard from that point on. Aidan Supp helped the Red Hawks tack on two more runs, as his RBI single in the third and RBI double in the fifth made it 6-1.
The Red Hawks went on to score five runs in the sixth to win by a comfortable margin.
Penn State Altoona baseball gets back at it tomorrow, as the Lions face Waynesburg University in a doubleheader at Lake Myrtle Park on Field #3. Game one is scheduled to start at 9:30 a.m.