The Crimson Hawks baseball team clinched its first conference victory of the season in an offensive party.
The Hawks had a lot of close games this season, but they came out exploding against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Mountain Cats in the second set of games with the big victory ending in an 11–2 favor of the Hawks.
It all started with none other than Nick Hess (senior, marketing) swinging a three-run bomb out in left field to give the Hawks the 3–0 lead in the first inning.
“One facet we have been struggling with is that big key hit with runners on base,” head coach Anthony Rebyanski said. “We were able to get the first two guys on base, and Hess came up big with a three-run home run to put us on top early. The key offensive note in that game was that we pushed at least one run across the board in every single inning, and everyone contributed somehow someway.”
Hess was not done producing runs, as a bit later in the third, he struck a ball off the fence in center field, scoring runners Chris Eisel (fifth year, pre-physical therapy) and Ty Diehl (junior, exercise science), making it 5–0 Hawks.
The Mountain Cats managed to get on the board with a few runs themselves, but that did not seem to faze the Hawks too much. Ben Hudock (fifth year, software engineering) was on the mound in the second half of the game in relief for Tyler Diefenbach (junior, marketing), who had a great game himself.
Diefenbach pitched four strikeouts and gave up one hit, while Hudock pitched a very strong four innings to cap off the game. He gave up two hits and dished out four strikeouts.
“Hudock has been working both as a starter and reliever, and he came out of the pen on Saturday and did a tremendous job for us,” Redbyanski said. “His off-speed pitches were sharp and the best we’ve seen thus far this season. He was able to keep their hitters off-balance all afternoon.
“If you can locate on the mound and execute pitches, you can give your team a chance to win. With some of the struggles we’ve had, we’ve been moving guys around on the mound, defensively, and offensively trying to find that niche that works.”
Along with the great pitching, the offense was not done quite yet. Colin Williams (senior, management) would strike a double, which gave the Hawks a 6–2 lead against UPJ. Eisel would follow with a two-run home run to left field.
Harrison Pontoli (sophomore, finance and legal studies) would hit a triple and brought home a run in the fifth inning. The Hawks wrapped up their scoring with Billy Perroz’s (freshman, mathematics) hitting a sac-fly in the sixth inning and the catcher’s, Diehl, hitting a double down the left-field line.
After this win, the Hawks were very happy, since most of the season has not gone in their favor.
“To get the monkey off our back, it felt great,” Rebyanski said. “But those wins need to be short-lived when you’re playing doubleheaders because we have to move onto the next one in under 30 minutes. Even though we did not win the series, this was an all-around good weekend on many different levels.
“It was great to get another win under our belts for sure, but thing biggest thing we saw was a spark out of this team that we haven’t seen in a long time, which we hope continues through the remainder of the season.”
Though the Hawks finished the weekend with a 1–3 record against the Mountain Cats, the remainder of the season looks to be full of tight competition.
“Baseball is such a long season, and we try to stress to our guys to stay humble even on the highs that they/we may have,” Rebyanski said. “The other side of this is to remember the feeling of what it took to get that particular victory, as it was a complete team effort in the dugout and on the field. Playing together and for one another is key, and they did that on Saturday for 14 straight innings.”
“It was our best offensive performance of the year,” Eisel said. “It was the most hits we’ve gotten and most runs we’ve scored in a game this year, and we scored in every inning.”
The Hawks look to feed off the win and continue the success for the remainder of the season. Their next matchup will be Friday at Indiana at 1 p.m.