DuBOIS, Pa. – For the baseball and softball teams at Penn State DuBois, it’s now the wonderful time of year when the regular season has turned to the post season. Having finished out the regular season games in the first half of the week, focus shifted to post season play, with both teams taking part in the PSUAC championship tournaments.
Prior to the playoffs starting, the baseball team at Penn State DuBois played its final three regular season games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Nittany Lions first traveled to take on Penn State New Kensington in the final doubleheader of conference play. In game one, the DuBois offense came on strong at the start, scoring five unanswered runs in the first three innings. Connor Cherry got the start on the mound for the Nittany Lions and kept the New Kensington bats quiet during his four innings of work, allowing one walk while striking out three batters. New Kensington wouldn’t go down easy, scoring three runs in the bottom of the fifth inning. DuBois drove home an insurance run in the top of the sixth to make the lead 6-3 heading to the final inning of regulation. It was in that inning that New Kensington rallied again, scoring two runs to trim the lead to 6-5 with a runner on first base and the winning run coming to the plate with two outs in the bottom of the seventh. But Cole Knable closed the door on game one by forcing a fly out to end the game and give DuBois the win. Brett Beith led the way offensively for the Nittany Lions with two hits, including a triple, scored twice and drove in two RBIs.
Game two of the day saw DuBois score the same number of runs it did in game one. The difference this time is New Kensington was held to just four scattered hits and was shut out by a great pitching performance from Jeff Romano, allowing only those four hits and one walk while striking out four in the game. That would be more than enough for the Nittany Lions. After scoring a single run in the top of the first, the DuBois offense exploded for five runs in the top of the third and never looked back from there. DuBois would go on to get the win 6-0. Colby Bodtorf, Tyler Yough, Cory Lehman and Alex Gavlock each had two hits for the Nittany Lions in the winning effort. Bodtorf and Lehman each contributed two RBIs as well.
Penn State DuBois closed out its regular season with a trip to take on an NCAA Division II team in Clarion University. In what turned out to be a slugfest that featured 28 runs and 29 hits between the two teams, the Nittany Lions jumped out to a 1-0 lead, holding Clarion scoreless in the bottom of the first inning. That would be the only time Clarion wouldn’t score, as the Golden Eagles pushed home 16 runs over the next seven innings. While DuBois did score multiple runs in the second, third, seventh and ninth innings, it wasn’t enough to completely come back, and Clarion went on to capture the win by a final score of 16-12. Beith and Brandon Sicheri both tallied three hits for the Nittany Lions, with Beith also driving home five RBIs in the loss.
On the softball diamond, Penn State DuBois traveled to visit Penn State Beaver for the final two regular season games of the year. With PSUAC playoff seeds at stake, the outcome of the two games between DuBois and Beaver would determine the final seeding for both teams. In game one, DuBois and Beaver matched each other, with DuBois scoring its first run in the top of the first. Beaver then matched that in the bottom of the second inning and the score was tied 1-1 after two innings of play. It was in the third inning that the Lady Lions got their offense rolling. With two runners on, Larissa James-LaBranche smashed a three-run home run to give DuBois a 4-1 lead. From that point, the Lady Lions added another run in the top of the fourth and four more in the top of the sixth, to lead 9-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth. Beaver mounted a comeback, scoring three runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth, and another in the bottom of the seventh. But the rally stalled, and DuBois held on to win game one by a score of 9-5. Madison Siterak and Abby Pentz each had two hits for the Lady Lions, while Megan Hyde got the win for DuBois, allowing ten hits, five runs, four earned, a walk and a strike in game one.
After winning game one, DuBois controlled its own destiny for playoff seedings. With a win in game two, it would secure the number four seed for the PSUAC playoffs. The Lady Lions set out to leave little doubt, scoring two runs before Beaver got on the board with a single run, meaning the lead belonged to DuBois 2-1 heading to the top of the fourth inning. That’s when the DuBois offense put the game out of reach for good. Scoring two runs in the fourth and five more in the fifth, DuBois closed out the regular season with a 9-1, five inning win over Beaver to grab the number four seed in the PSUAC playoffs. Caitlyn Watson, Kelsey Stuart, Paige Pleta and Emma Suplizio each had two hits for the Lady Lions, with Watson and Stuart also driving in three RBIs each in the game. Stuart also picked up the win on the mound, throwing all five innings, allowing five hits, one run, two walks while striking out four Beaver hitters.
The weekend meant the start of the PSUAC Championships for both the baseball and softball teams at Penn State DuBois.
For the baseball team, it was drawn as the number two seed on the western side of the bracket, with Penn State Mont Alto being the number one seed and Penn State Fayette being the three seed. DuBois and Fayette would play each other first, with the winner of that game moving on to face Mont Alto. With Mont Alto being the top seed, it was scheduled to host the first set of games at its home field. However, because of rain on Friday and continuing weather possible on Saturday, the games were moved to Showers Field in DuBois because of its artificial surface and ability to handle the rain that was continually present.
In the game against Fayette, offense was king for both teams, with the two teams combining for 27 runs on 29 hits. DuBois struck first, scoring five runs in the bottom of the second inning, including a Bodtorf triple that scored two for the Nittany Lions. Fayette would answer right back, however, scoring five runs in the top of the third. DuBois answered as well, using efficient offense to bring home six runs in the bottom half of the inning to take an 11-5 lead. The two teams traded runs over the next several innings before the DuBois defense was able to shut down the Fayette offense in the sixth and seventh innings, with DuBois picking up the win 17-10. Sicheri and Grant Lillard each had three hits in the win for the Nittany Lions. Lillard also drove in five RBIs, with Bodtorf and Bryce Dobson bringing in four RBIs and three RBIs respectively.
With the win in the first game of the day, Penn State DuBois advanced on to face top seeded Penn State Mont Alto. Playing as the visiting team on its home field, DuBois didn’t let this change bother them. In a game that was the complete opposite of game one, the Nittany Lions combined two runs offensively with a strong pitching performance from Taylor Boland to bring home a narrow 2-1 win over Mont Alto. Boland went the distance for the Nittany Lions to get the win, allowing five hits, one earned run, two walks while recording seven strikeouts over seven innings of work. Lehman and Yough each had an RBI to help DuBois to the win.
With the two wins, Penn State DuBois now advances to championship weekend, with Medlar Field at Lubrano Park at University Park hosting the games. The Nittany Lions will play their first game on Sunday at 2 p.m. against Penn State Brandywine, in the winner’s bracket. The baseball championship tournament is double elimination, meaning DuBois would need to lose two games to be out of the PSUAC championship running.
Mother Nature also played spoiler for the Penn State DuBois softball team, but in a different way. After making the trip to Penn State Brandywine, the number one overall seed in pool one, DuBois played Penn State Schuylkill in their opening playoff contest. The winner would face Brandywine in the second game of the day.
Schuylkill scored the first run of the day, with a single tally in the top of the second inning. DuBois used this as motivation and came back to score two runs in the third and four runs in the fourth to take a 6-1 lead all the way to the sixth inning. Schuylkill, however, would not go quietly. After another single run in the top of the sixth, the offense for Schuylkill got hot at the right time, pushing home five runs in the top of the seventh inning to notch a come from behind win over DuBois by a final score of 7-6. Pentz, Stuart and Brianna Bone each tallied two hits for the Lady Lions in the loss, with Watson bringing home three RBIs as well.
With the win, Schuylkill advanced to play Brandywine in game two, with DuBois awaiting the loser of that game to play in an elimination game. With Brandywine leading 6-0 over Schuylkill heading to the top of the fourth inning, the rain came in hard and fast and forced the game to be suspended at that point. The PSUAC has announced that the tournament will resume on Friday as Penn State Schuylkill and Penn State Brandywine will finish their halted contest. After that game, all remaining teams will move on to State College starting Sunday to crown a champion. The loser of the Brandywine-Schuylkill game will face Penn State DuBois at 3 p.m. on Sunday in an elimination contest at Nittany Lion Softball Park on the University Park campus. With each pool then being at the same stage of its original pool play after this game, the tournament will then move to a single elimination format.
Penn State Mont Alto will face Penn State New Kensington at 5 p.m. at Nittany Lion Softball Park, with the winner of the Brandywine-Schuylkill game playing at 7 p.m. against the winner of Sunday's first game. The winners of the last two games on Sunday will advance to the championship game on Monday. Championship play will begin at noon.
For complete athletic schedules, including changes to both the baseball and softball schedules, visit the Penn State DuBois athletic website at psuduboisathletics.com.