Although it might have taken six games, the Shippensburg University baseball team finally has a dash in the win column.
Opening its first home-and-home series Friday, against a nationally-ranked East Stroudsburg University team, the Raiders fell in Games 1, 2 and 3 before claiming a 1-0 victory Saturday in Game 4 behind freshman Gabe Stotler’s career outing on the bump at Creekview Park.
Following a mediocre relief appearance the weekend prior against Seton Hill University, Stotler (1-0) slammed the door on a loaded Warriors’ lineup. Stotler pitched a complete seven-inning shutout and scattered only two hits, while ringing up five. He became the first Raider since 2009 to shutout ESU on its home diamond.
Behind Stotler, SU (1-5, 1-5 PSAC) could muster all of three hits in Game 4, with the lone run of the game coming on a fourth inning Justin Darden sacrifice fly, plating sophomore Lake Lloyd, who led off the inning with a walk.
Besides Stotler’s eye-opening start and the Game 4 win, the Raiders did not have much to celebrate about this weekend as ESU (4-3, 4-3 PSAC) made easy work of SU across the other three contests.
The Warriors took Game 1 in fashion 13-5 and squeaked by in Game 2 with a 3-2 victory. They knocked just four hits in Game 3, using nine walks to their advantage, capturing the landslide victory 8-1.
Redshirt-sophomore Kiernan Higgins (0-2) took to the mound in Game 1 and once again took a shellacking. Over four innings of work, Higgins totaled five earned runs on five hits and walked six.
Relieving Higgins was junior Christ Horst, who the Warriors chalked up for four runs in 1 2/3 innings, and freshman Chris Douglass, who did not see past a third of an inning, gave up an additional four runs.
Sophomore Noah Nabholz settled the storm, allowing one hit while striking out three in the top of the seventh inning.
SU once again struggled to get the bat off its shoulders, knocking four hits and tallying 11 strikeouts. Lloyd served as a bright spot in the lineup, plating two runs on a sixth-inning double. He finished the game 1-for-2, including a walk.
Game 2, much like last weekend, was a showdown on the rubber with graduate student Kyle Lysy (0-2) receiving the starting nod.
As if in uniform pattern to his first start, ESU’s Carson Freeman (the second batter in the lineup) took Lysy yard in the first inning. But to Lysy’s credit, he regained his composure and tossed another gem.
Lysy, who finished with six strong innings, scattered three hits, two earned runs (three runs total) and knee-buckled nine Warriors. His ninth strikeout of the evening came as the 100th of his collegiate career.
However, also similar to the weekend before, Lysy did not receive much help from the batter’s box. SU collected a slim picking of three hits, with the two runs coming from Darden’s two-run blast in the second inning, his first of the young season. Junior catcher Chase Zurawski also notched a double for the Raiders.
A fifth inning throwing error from right field arguably cost the Raiders the game as two runners crossed the plate, handing ESU the 3-2 advantage.
Duplicating its success from Game 1, ESU handily won Game 3 by the way of base on balls.
Freshman Kaleb Sophy (0-1) earned his first career start and ultimately struggled to find his control. Walking eight Warriors, Sophy went for 4 1/3 innings, while totaling eight runs (four earned) and scattering three hits. He also struck out three.
Freshman Ethan Miller, making his first collegiate appearance, thrashed the Warriors’ momentum in 1 2/3 innings of work, striking out one, tallying one hit and giving one free pass.
In lieu of plating a sole run, SU saw its most success at the plate with seven hits. However, the Raiders were unable to capitalize with runners in scoring position, ending the game with 11 runners left on base.
Junior Ben Werkheiser opened the scoring in the first inning with an RBI single. Following him, six other Raiders notched singles, with Zurawski responsible for the only run scored.
SU continues its strand of home-and-home series next weekend versus Shepherd University, visiting the Rams Friday before returning to Fairchild Field Saturday.