By: Matylda Zamudio
MONACA, Pa. — In its home debut for the 2019 season, the Penn State Beaver men's baseball team took on the Kent State-Tuscarawas in Thursday's afternoon doubleheader.
Leading the offense was sophomore Stefan Romaniuk (Alpha/Notre Dame) who went 1 for 2 with 2 RBIs followed by freshman Christian James (Mechanicsburg/Cumberland Valley) who was 2 for 4. Junior Shelton Hilliard (Baden/Ambridge) also had a notable performance, where he went 1 for 3 at-bats with 2 RBIs.
Freshman Noah Rinker (Ellwood City/Lincoln), who pitched a complete game, took his fourth loss of the season (0-4) after giving up nine hits in seven innings. Rinker struck out six out of the 33 batters he faced.
In game one, the Lions had a slow start on both sides of the field and were unable to earn a run for the first three innings as well as allowing Kent State-Tuscarawas to make three runs in the first inning and one in the second (4-0). But Beaver sparked the offense in the bottom of the fourth, which started freshman Jacob Beck (Beaver) walking to first, prompting junior Justyn Francona (New Brighton) to reach second. Romaniuk then batted in both Beck and Francona to score (4 – 2) followed by Hilliard, who was next at-bat, advancing Romaniuk to earn his own run.
The Lions continued to forge a comeback in the bottom of sixth with Romaniuk made a sacrifice play by bunting out to the pitcher to move Beck second. Hughes singled on the next play, putting Beck on third base. Hilliard then reached first on an error by Kent State-Tuscarawas' third baseman, which sent Beck straight to home plate, tying the game at 4-4.
In the final inning, while Rinker struck out two batters, he allowed three hits by Kent State-Tuscarawas' batters, resulting in the visitors taking on three more runs to the scoreboard, which left the Lions' fate in the offense's hands in the bottom of the seventh (7-4). However, Beaver acquired its three outs on the first three batters, taking a 7-4 loss in game one.
Beaver had a tougher time in game two, with Kent State-Tuscarawas took a 4-1 lead after earning four runs to Beaver's one in the first inning. While the Lions went scoreless for the next three innings, Kent State-Tuscarawas made seven more runs to Beaver behind 11-1 heading into the fifth. Despite an error by Kent State-Tuscarawas' right fielder allowing Francona to advance both James and Romaniuk to home plate in the bottom of the fifth and Hilliard scoring on a passed ball in the bottom of the sixth helped Beaver cut down the lead, Kent State-Tuscarawas went on to score five more runs in the top of the seventh, handing the Lions their second loss of the day (16-4).
Rowland led the offense in game two, who went 2 for 3 followed by Romaniuk, who went 1 for 3 and scored two runs in the game. Francona recorded 2 RBIs in the game.
After today's losses against Kent State-Tuscarawas, Beaver sits at a 3-7 record for the season.
Beaver will back for another doubleheader on Friday, Mar. 15., where the team will face CCAC Boyce on the road. Game one is at 1 p.m. and game two is at 3 p.m.