Penn State DuBois baseball finishes season as USCAA national runner-up

Penn State DuBois head coach Tom Calliari, center, talks with his players during a mound visit in a game during the USCAA Small College World Series.

Penn State DuBois head coach Tom Calliari, center, talks with his players during a mound visit in a game during the USCAA Small College World Series.

Credit: Penn State

DuBOIS, Pa. — For Penn State DuBois baseball, there are two goals each season. The first, winning the conference title. The second, winning the national championship. This season, the Nittany Lions, who were the defending United State Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA) national champions, got back to the title game with a chance to go back-to-back and defend their title. In a season that set numerous individual and program records, DuBois came up one win short of another national championship, falling to Cincinnati-Clermont in the final game of the national championship tournament.

After winning the Pennsylvania State University Athletic Conference (PSUAC) championship, Penn State DuBois received an automatic bid into the USCAA Small College World Series and entered the tournament as the No. 1 overall seed. However, this did not mean that the Nittany Lions would have a clear path to the championship. They would have their struggles along the way.

The opening game for Penn State DuBois was against another PSUAC team, Penn State York. In the contest, DuBois rallied in the bottom of the seventh inning to secure a 5-4 victory over York to advance in the championship tournament. The win came courtesy of a clutch RBI single by Tyler Yough, who drove in the winning run with two outs.

Both teams scored two runs in the first inning. York got on the board with a two-run homer from catcher Sam Richie. DuBois responded with RBIs from Grant Lillard and Brett Beith to tie the game. After three scoreless innings, York took a 4-2 lead in the top of the sixth with RBIs from Andrew Miller and Brandon Shirk. However, DuBois quickly answered in the bottom half of the inning with two runs to tie it again, thanks to RBIs from Cory Lehman and Tylor Herzing.

The game remained deadlocked until the bottom of the seventh. After Jake Sikora’s pinch-hit single, Braylen Corter came in as a pinch-runner and scored the decisive run on Yough’s single.

Antonio Nicolo took the loss for York, pitching 6.2 innings and allowing five runs on 11 hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Taylor Boland started for DuBois, giving up four runs on four hits over six innings, while Sikora earned the win with a scoreless seventh. Lillard and Elensky led the offensive charge for DuBois, each collecting three hits.

The win in game one advanced the Nittany Lions to face Atlantis University on day two of tournament. In a result that was similar to the previous game, Penn State DuBois mounted a dramatic comeback to defeat Atlantis 6-5. The Nittany Lions were powered by a three-run homer from Lillard in the third inning and a late-game rally to secure the win.

Atlantis struck first, scoring two runs in the first inning on RBIs from Justin Suarez and Jonathan Vasallo. They extended their lead to 3-0 in the second inning with a sacrifice fly from Suarez. The team added two more runs in the fourth inning on hits by Henry Estrada and Orlando Boroto Jr., making it 5-0.

DuBois responded in the bottom of the third with a three-run blast from Lillard, narrowing the gap to 5-3. The Nittany Lions completed their comeback in the fifth inning, scoring three runs to take a 6-5 lead. Lillard again delivered the big hit with a two-RBI single, while Colby Bodtorf and Elensky also contributed RBIs.

Connor Cherry started for DuBois, pitching 3.2 innings and allowing five runs, three earned, on seven hits with three strikeouts. Zach Witherow earned the win in relief, shutting down Atlantis over the final 3.1 innings, giving up just three hits and striking out three. Luis Rondon took the loss for Atlantis, pitching a complete game but allowing six runs on five hits with six strikeouts and two walks.

Advancing further in the winner’s bracket of the double elimination tournament, Penn State DuBois would match up with Cincinnati-Clermont, a team it is very familiar with from previous years in the world series. In this game, Cincinnati-Clermont powered past DuBois 10-6, with a decisive five-run first inning setting the tone for the game. Despite a late rally by the home team, Clermont's pitching and timely hitting secured the win.

Cincinnati-Clermont opened the scoring floodgates in the second inning, racking up five runs on RBIs from Deeds, Bubba Allen and Grant Gillespie. Clermont added another five runs in the fifth, capitalizing on RBIs from Dominic Wilson, Austin Heffner, and additional hits from Deeds and Allen.

DuBois responded quickly, scoring three runs in the bottom of the first inning. Bodtorf and Lillard each contributed hits to cut into the early deficit. The Nittany Lions continued their comeback attempt in the third inning, scoring another three runs, with RBIs from Yough, Beith, and Sikora, pulling within one run at 6-5.

Clermont’s pitching staff held firm after the early scare. Starter Matt Peer allowed six runs, five earned, over 2.1 innings, but Liam Morgenroth came in for long relief, throwing 4.2 scoreless innings with seven strikeouts and only two hits allowed to secure the win. Maclain Welshans took the loss for DuBois, struggling with command as he allowed five runs over two innings, walking three and hitting three batters. Sikora and Jeff Romano provided relief, but Clermont's early offense proved too much to overcome.

Clermont’s Deeds led the offense, going 3-for-5 with two RBIs and a double. Allen added two hits and two RBIs, while Gillespie and Heffner each contributed two RBIs. For DuBois, Bodtorf had a standout game, going 3-for-3 with a double, while Lillard added two hits and an RBI.

With the loss, Penn State DuBois fell into the lower bracket of the tournament and couldn’t afford another loss, or the team would be eliminated. The first game in the lower bracket for the Nittany Lions would see them take on Florida National. The winner of the game would advance into the championship series against the only remaining undefeated team in the tournament, Cincinnati-Clermont.

On the field, Penn State DuBois unleashed a relentless offensive onslaught to defeat Florida National 13-3.  The Nittany Lions wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, scoring a run in the first inning on an RBI by Bodtorf. After Florida National took the lead with two runs in the second inning, DuBois exploded for seven runs in the third inning, fueled by a combination of hits, walks and aggressive baserunning.

Bodtorf led the offensive charge for the Nittany Lions, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while Elensky, Beith and Bryce Dobson each contributed two hits and multiple runs scored. Bodtorf's standout performance included a three-run triple in the third inning, helping to break the game open.

On the mound, Zach Tiracorda delivered a solid performance for DuBois, pitching six innings and allowing three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts. Tiracorda received strong support from his defense, as the team didn't commit any errors in the game. Gavin Gonzalez (3-2) took the loss for Florida National, lasting just 2.2 innings and surrendering six runs (two earned) on six hits with three strikeouts.

The Nittany Lion win set up a rematch with Cincinnati-Clermont in the championship series. With Penn State DuBois already having a loss in the tournament, they would need to defeat Clermont twice to secure the national championship. A Clermont win would see the tournament conclude with them being crowned champions.

In the first game of the championship series, Penn State Du Bois emerged victorious against Cincinnati-Clermont with a final score of 7-4. The game began with both teams showing early offensive prowess. Clermont took the lead in the first inning with Deeds driving in a run. However, the Nittany Lions quickly responded, tying the game in the second inning.

The middle innings saw DuBois asserting themselves offensively, scoring two runs in both the third and fourth innings. The team's offense was led by a balanced effort, with contributions from Bodtorf, Lillard, and Beith, among others.

Clermont fought back in the fifth inning, narrowing the lead with two runs of their own, but DuBois managed to maintain their advantage.

Pitching played a crucial role in the game's outcome, with DuBois' Zach Witherow securing the win after pitching five innings and allowing four runs. Relief pitchers Romano, Boland and Cherry combined to shut down Cincinnati-Clermont's offense in the later innings, preserving the lead.

The win showcased the Nittany Lions’ resilience and depth, highlighting their ability to perform under pressure and secure crucial victories to continue their season. The win also set up one final game between DuBois and Clermont in a winner-takes-all championship game.

Penn State DuBois faced a tough outing in the championship game, as the Nittany Lions were shut out 4-0 by Cincinnati-Clermont. Despite a valiant effort from Beith, who went 2-for-2 with a double and a walk, the Nittany Lions couldn't muster the offense needed to overcome Clermont's dominant pitching. Logan Wilson of Clermont pitched a complete game shutout, limiting DuBois to just four hits and striking out eight batters.

Bodtorf, Elensky and Lillard each managed a hit, but DuBois struggled to capitalize on scoring opportunities, leaving 10 runners on base throughout the game. The team’s inability to drive in runs was compounded by six walks drawn, which failed to translate into any runs.

Cherry started on the mound for the Nittany Lions, pitching four innings and giving up two runs on three hits while striking out four. Relievers Christian Hopp, Ezeck Ollinger, Casey Serine, Joe Tettis and Sikora combined to pitch the remaining three innings, allowing a total of two additional runs on three hits, while striking out two and walking one.

With the loss, Penn State DuBois closed out the season with a record of 37-11. The 37 wins are the most in program history for a single season. This game also marked the final game for head coach Tom Calliari, who is stepping away from the program. He has been in the leadership position for the team since the baseball team was restarted in 2015.

As part of the USCAA Small College World Series, several members of the Penn State DuBois baseball team were recognized for their efforts on the field and academically. Award winners included:

All-Academic Award Winners

  • Nick Cagliola
  • Owen Graham
  • Jorge Rodriguez
  • Jeff Romano
  • Casey Serine
  • Zack Tiracorda
  • Tyler Yough

Honorable Mention All-American

  • Cory Lehman

Second Team All-Americans

  • Brett Beith
  • Tyler Yough

First Team All-American

  • Taylor Boland

Coach of the Year

  • Tom Calliari

For information and schedules for all the athletic teams at Penn State DuBois, visit the Penn State DuBois athletic website.