Saturday’s opening weekend doubleheader did not go quite as planned for the Shippensburg University baseball team.
On the road against an assertive Seton Hill University squad, boded as a tough matchup for the Raiders as the Griffins rolled to a 7-3 victory in Game 1 and a 1-0 outcome in Game 2.
Seton Hill came into Saturday’s contest as the No. 2 ranked team in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) West Division preseason poll, compared to the Raiders’ No. 6 seed showing in the Eastern Division.
The teams lived up to ranking expectations.
While Game 1 provided some life at the plate, the Raiders were unable to shake off the early season rust for much of the afternoon.
In Game 1, SU knocked seven base hits but were unable to capitalize with runners in scoring position across seven innings of action. The Raiders did not reach the scoring column until the final stanza.
Sophomore first baseman Lake Lloyd accounted for the first SU run on the season on a solo blast to deep left field — the homerun being one of his two hits over six at-bats on the afternoon.
Behind Lloyd, returning 2020 team captain, sophomore outfielder Tony Vavaroutsos, tallied one of the other two RBIs for SU. His day went to the tune of a 2-for-7 line with two singles.
Graduate transfer JuJu Cason notched the other Raider run in Game 1, going for a 1-for-6 total in his SU debut.
Redshirt-sophomore Kiernan Higgins (0-1) received the starting nod in the season opener. Higgins never seemed to find his control, throwing numerous wild pitches en route to four innings of work, scattering five hits and three walks. He also chalked up five earned runs (all coming in the second inning), while casting one lone strikeout.
Freshman Gabe Stotler relieved Higgins of his duties in the fifth frame, making his Shippensburg debut. Stotler tossed two innings, allowing three hits and two earned runs. Additionally, he earned his first career collegiate strikeout.
Seton Hill’s senior Jared Kollar pitched four shutout innings in the win, striking out seven Raiders in the process.
Game 2 showed out as a battle on the bump as the Raiders could only muster two hits.
Graduate student Kyle Lysy (0-1) picked up right where he left off in his 2020 campaign — buckling batters’ knees and painting the corners of the strike zone. Despite giving up an open-inning solo homerun, Lysy settled down and pitched a solid five-inning outing. He finished Game 2 with four hits allowed, one earned run and struck out five Griffins.
Freshman reliever Kaleb Sophy — who did not see any game action in 2020 — also duplicated his starters’ performance with an impressive debut on the rubber. Sophy molded together three strikeouts and one walk over the course of one inning.
But it was the Griffins’ senior Ben Vicini who out classed the SU pitching duo and thwarted the Raiders’ lineup as he hurled a complete game shutout, while piling up five strikeouts and scattered two hits.
Graduate student Tommy Pellis scored the sole Seton Hill run on his first-inning solo blast.
SU returns to the diamond Friday for the beginning of the home-and-home series against East Stroudsburg University. SU will host the Warriors Friday and hit the road Saturday. First pitch Friday is slated for noon.