On Tuesday afternoon, the IUP baseball team hosted a non-conference double-header between the Crimson Hawks and the Walsh University Cavaliers, dropping both games at Dougherty Field.
In game one, IUP quickly gained the upper hand as it went up 5-1 after the first inning.
What jumpstarted the Crimson Hawks was a three RBI single by Nick Hess (sophomore, marketing), which scored Chris Eisel (junior, pre-physical therapy), Markus Cestra (freshman, business management) and Nick DiAndreth (freshman, exercise science).
The Cavaliers quickly responded as they battled for three runs, bringing them within one of IUP.
The game was slow-paced up until the top of the third inning when Walsh’s Brenden Spaulding sent the ball over the fence, tying the game at five.
The fireworks went on display in the top of the sixth when the Cavaliers rallied for five runs after a wild pitch broke the floodgates open. This led to a sacrifice fly by Bailey Mosley, an Andrew Czech RBI single, an error and a Spaulding double.
IUP would rally for one more run in the final frame but would ultimately fall short in game one 10-6.
In game two, the scoring column remained bare until the third inning.
The Cavaliers put up seven runs in the top of the third inning and three in the fifth after a three-run home run by Czech put them in front by double digits.
IUP’s JP Pellis (junior, finance) allowed six runs on five hits in his second longest outing of the season.
Walsh’s Caleb Canter allowed only two hits and no runs while striking out three batters in three innings of work.
IUP’s only run of the game was batted in by Tyler Adams (junior, criminology) after he grounded out in the bottom of the sixth, driving home Nick Hess.
While the Crimson Hawks kept things close in the first game, they fell 15-1 in game two.
Despite the loss, IUP showed great resiliency on the diamond. By getting ahead early in the first game and fighting back in game two, head coach Anthony Rebyanski and his squad have a great wave of momentum as they head into their next series this weekend against Mercyhurst, which is ranked eighth in the nation.
“Our team has shown a lot of resiliency all year up to this point,” Rebyanski said. “It’s just been a few small mistakes here and there that have been the difference in games. It’s just a matter of how we overcome and learn from those mistakes that will propel us.”
The Lakers will be a tough competition, but if IUP can overcome those mistakes, as Rebyanski said, it will make the series much better than anticipated.
“We will take the same approach against Mercyhurst as we do every team we’ve played up to this point” Rebyanski said. “The key this series will be to match their arms on the mound. They have four high caliber starters that will make it a challenge, but we have the offense that has the ability to be successful against them.”
While matching arms, IUP will have a few aces going this weekend. One in particular is Colin Claus (senior, physical education), who has a confident mindset for the upcoming games.
“Even though they are a nationally ranked opponent, it won’t change my preparation,” Claus said. “No matter the opponent, I still have my routines, and that won’t ever change. I just have to use my strengths against them, and it will give us a good chance to come out on top.”
It will be a battle of strengths as IUP and Mercyhurst square off in a four-game series this weekend.
Saturday will see action at Dougherty Field before the Crimson Hawks travel to Erie Sunday. The Saturday games will be broadcast on 90.1 WIUP-FM with first pitch slated for 1 p.m.