FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. – The Stevenson University baseball team opened up their 2018 campaign with a pair of victories for first-year head coach Dave Gage by defeating Penn State-Abington by a final of 3-1 on Saturday morning at J.P. Riddle Stadium, then following up with a 22-8 triumph over Frostburg State.
Stats from Saturday's second game were incomplete, but should be available Sunday morning.
The Mustangs (1-0) had six different batters pick up solo hits in the game. Junior Matthew Kerber in addition to his hit also drew a pair of walks. Freshman Kevin Barrett came in as a pinch hitter coming up with a hit and scoring a run in two at-bats. Seniors Michael Rhodes and Jake Dimon each added a hit and an RBI. Sophomores Alex Kidwiler and Brady Kessler chipped in the with the other Mustangs hits.
In the top of the first Abington jumped out to the early 1-0 lead as Stevie Stevenson led things off with a double to left center. Then with Brett Guaglionona batting Stevenson took third on a passed ball. Later in the at-bat, he would single back to Stevenson junior starting pitcher James Wiercinski plating Stevenson to get the Nittany Lions on top. Ryan McCarty went down on strikes swinging and Tyler Dipatri made the half of the inning come to close when he grounded into a double play. The Mustangs had two players reach base in the bottom of the first as Kerber took a walk and stole second. Senior Billy Small was hit by a pitch, but Rhodes struck out swinging to end the frame.
Neither team could muster any offense in the second as Austin Mikula earned a walk for Abington, and the Mustangs went down in order to keep the score 1-0. In the bottom of the third Stevenson looked to have a chance to tie things up. After Kessler was retired on strikes sophomore Kevin Murray, Jr. knocked a double to right field. However, with Kerber at the dish, Murray was caught stealing trying to advance to third. Kerber picked up a walk from starter Dipatri, but was stranded at first when senior John D'Aquanno flew out to left fielder Stevenson to retire the side.
The fifth inning saw the Nittany Lions threaten still against starter Wiercinski. After Mikula and Kyle Marshall went down on strikes, Jaden Himmelreich reached on an error by second baseman Kessler. The next batter Stevenson drew a walk setting up first and second with two out, but the threat came to a halt when Guaglionona grounded out to the pitcher. Kessler singled to center with two outs in the bottom half of the inning. He would not get any further though as Murray popped out to Himmelreich at short.
Senior Michael Remeikis took over on the mound in the sixth and had the leadoff hitter McCarty single to left, he then advanced to second on a balk with one out. Ryan Ungurean and Julio Aira IV grounded out and struck out to set down Abington. In the bottom of the sixth, Zach Bregenzer replaced Dipatri on the hill and quickly got two outs with Kerber and D'Aquanno both grounding out. Barrett then stepped into the box as a pinch hitter and sent a single to right. Rhodes roped a double to left plating Barrett tying the score at 1-1. Dimon picked up the third straight hit for the Mustangs sending a double to center field that scored Rhodes giving Stevenson their first lead of the season. The following batter Kidwiler singled to left knocking in Dimon to make it 3-1.
With the score still at 3-1 heading to the top of the ninth and the last chance for the Nittany Lions senior Eric Prachniak was called out of the bullpen to relieve Remeikis. He got the first two batters out retiring Aira IV on a fly out to center fielder Murray and Mikula grounded out to D'Aquanno at third. Marshall then stepped into the box and singled to left. Then, Himmelreich drew a walk setting up first and second with two out. Abington was able to load the bases after Stevenson reached on an error by D'Aquanno at third. Freshman Phil Wugalter was summoned from the pen to step into this tight spot in his first appearance for the Mustangs. With the new pitcher on the bump, Jon Rivera was called off the Abington bench to pinch hit for Guaglionona he sent a grounder at D'Aquanno who scooped it and tagged third retiring Himmelreich and ending the game.
Remeikis earned the win for Stevenson going three innings giving up two hits and striking out four batters. Starter Wiercinski went five conceding the lone run against and picked up eight strikeouts. The combination of Prachniak and Wugalter went one frame letting up a hit and handed out one walk.
Stevenson will be right back in action tomorrow Sunday, February, 18 for a rematch with Frostburg State in Fayetteville, N.C. First pitch against the Bobcats is scheduled for 12pm.