Penn State DuBois baseball crowned PSUAC champions; preps for world series

The Penn State DuBois baseball team lifts the PSUAC trophy after securing the conference title for the second year in a row.

The Penn State DuBois baseball team lifts the PSUAC trophy after securing the conference title for the second year in a row.

Credit: Penn State

DuBOIS, Pa. – Dominant. That is how you could describe the season Penn State DuBois had within the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC). Winning 19 of their 20 conference games, the Nittany Lions entered the conference playoffs as the number one seed on the western side of the bracket. They lived up to that seed, winning three games in a row to secure their second straight conference championship, closing out the tournament with a win over Penn State Mont Alto in the championship game on Monday at Showers Field in DuBois.

The PSUAC championship tournament began for Penn State DuBois on April 27 when they faced off with Penn State Mont Alto during the opening weekend of the tournament. Mont Alto first had to defeat Penn State Greater Allegheny to advance to face DuBois, with both teams looking to stay alive in the winner’s bracket. With DuBois hosting the games at Showers Field, a great matchup between the two PSUAC west rivals played out on the field in a tightly contested matchup.

After the game started scoreless through the first two and a half innings, DuBois got on the scoreboard first in the bottom of the third by using a bit of small ball, as the baseball saying goes. Colby Bodtorf led off the inning with a single to center, followed by another single from Brett Beith, advancing Bodtorf to second. Bodtorf wouldn’t be done with his impact, however, as he waited for the right moment to make a break and steal third base. With runners now on the corners, Grant Lillard drove a high fly ball to left field that was plenty deep enough to score Bodtorf from third to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead.

After starting pitcher Taylor Boland again held Mont Alto out of the run column in the top of the fourth, the Nittany Lions looked to get their offense going again in the bottom half of the inning. They would do just that in a very explosive way. After a Nick Cagliola fly out, Bryce Dobson stepped up to the plate and drove a solo homerun to extend the DuBois led to 2-0. On deck while Dobson was batting was Kyle Elensky. He must have liked what he saw from Dobson’s at bat, because he followed suit as Elensky made it back-to-back solo home runs for the Nittany Lions, who now led 3-0 in the ballgame.

That would be all the runs that the DuBois’ defense and pitching would need, as the trio of Boland, Connor Cherry and Maclain Welshans forced Mont Alto to scatter eight hits, with only one of them being an extra base hit, while completing the shutout and helping DuBois to a 3-0 win over Mont Alto in the PSUAC championship tournament. With the win, DuBois advanced into championship weekend where they would face the top seed in the east side of the bracket, Penn State Schuylkill on May 5.

Originally, all games during championship weekend were scheduled to be played at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in University Park. However, due to weather and field conditions, all games in the weekend would be moved to Showers Field in DuBois to get all games in on an artificial surface field.

In a closely contested game, DuBois managed to secure a 4-2 victory over Schuylkill. With the win, the Nittany Lions advanced directly into the championship series, needing just one more win to secure the PSUAC crown.

The game remained scoreless through the first two innings, with both teams' pitchers keeping the opposing hitters in check. However, DuBois broke the deadlock in the top of the third inning, scoring two runs to take an early lead. Schuylkill responded in the bottom of the sixth inning with two runs of their own, tying the game at 2-2. However, DuBois quickly regained the lead in the top of the seventh inning, scoring one run to make it 3-2. In the top of the seventh inning, DuBois added an insurance run to extend their lead to 4-2, which proved to be enough to secure the victory.

Beith and Lillard played crucial roles in the Nittany Lions’ offense, each contributing with a double and an RBI. Cory Lehman and Tylor Herzing also drove in runs for the team. On the defensive side, Boland started on the mound for DuBois, pitching 4.2 innings and allowing two runs while striking out five batters. Zach Tiracorda and Welshans provided solid relief appearances to preserve the lead and secure the win.

For Penn State Schuylkill, Tristian Baer pitched a complete game, allowing four runs on six hits while striking out five batters.

After securing their place in the championship series on Monday, DuBois had to wait and see who their opponent would be. An elimination game between Schuylkill and Mont Alto would decide the opponent, with Mont Alto getting a 5-0 win over Schuylkill, setting up another matchup between DuBois and Mont Alto. The two PSUAC west rivals would decide who would be the conference champion this season.

DuBois got on the scoreboard early when Lillard hit a solo homerun to right center field to give the Nittany Lions a 1-0 lead. DuBois would increase their lead in the fourth inning when Bodtorf stroked a hard-hit single that allowed Dobson and Tyler Yough to score. Lillard struck again for the Nittany Lions in the fourth inning with another hard-hit ball that drove in two RBIs, with Bodtorf and Herzing scoring, giving DuBois a 5-0 lead.

That lead would be all that the DuBois pitching would need on the day. Led by starting pitcher Cherry, who worked 6.2 innings allowing four hits, one walk and striking out five, never allowed the Mont Alto offense to get started. Zach Witherow came into the game to record the final out, in relief of Cherry. The great pitching performance, combine with a Nittany Lion defense that didn’t commit an error, gave DuBois the strong footing they needed to secure the win and the conference title.

Penn State DuBois has now won the PSUAC baseball championship five of the last six times the championship has been played. There was no championship in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The conference championship also secured an automatic bid into the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) World Series, which is scheduled to be played at Showers Field in DuBois May 12-17.

The Nittany Lions will enter the world series as the number one seed. They are scheduled to open championship play on Monday, May 13, at 7 p.m. They will play the winner of the game between the number eight seed Wright State and number nine seed Penn State York.

Full details about the USCAA Small College World Series can be found on the USCAA website.

For complete athletic schedules, including any weather-related changes, visit the Penn State DuBois athletic website.