The Shippensburg University baseball team’s winning streak may have ended at eight games but that did not prevent it from capturing three of four games against Kutztown University.
Across a four-game home-and-home series Thursday and Friday, the Raiders snagged Games 1 and 2 by scores of 9-5 and 9-0, before falling in Game 3 7-0. SU climbed back into the win column in Game 4 with an 8-3 defeat.
By taking three of four on the Golden Bears (14-12, 8-12 PSAC East), the Raiders have now won nine of their last 10 contests, improving their record to 12-8 (10-6 PSAC East), keeping themselves in the tight-knit postseason race.
Junior Chase Zurawski unfurled the Raider scoring in Game 1 on an open-inning RBI double, his first of two on the afternoon. Graduate JuJu Cason — who accounted as the first SU run and assembled a 3-for-4 line at the plate — followed suit in the bottom of the fourth, plating two on a single.
Clinging to a 3-0 advantage going into the top of fifth, the Golden Bears countered with three runs, tying the game. However, pitching mishaps on the KU side in the bottom of the fifth arguably cost them the game. In relief, KU’s Jake Skrocki plunked four Raiders, three costing runs.
Sophomore Justin Darden and freshman Andrew Chronister also contributed to the fifth-inning cause with RBI and two-RBI singles, sparking a six-run stanza and providing the Raiders with a six-score edge. That lead would hold, even after two KU runs in the sixth, giving SU the 9-5 win.
Graduate Kyle Lysy (3-2) continued his torrid pace to the season, allowing three earned runs across five innings of work. Lysy also scattered six hits, knee-buckled four and charted two walks.
Sophomore Noah Nabholz and freshman Austen Labarre combined for the last two innings in relief, Nabholz tabbed for two runs (one earned) and Labarre pitching a clean seventh inning.
The bats remained hot in Game 2 as the Raiders tallied 14 knocks. Pitching also played a key role with the Golden Bears dropping a “goose egg” in the run column.
In five innings on the bump, redshirt-sophomore Kiernan Higgins (3-3) notched his third straight shutout performance. Higgins conceded four hits, struck out seven and permitted four free passes. The citable outing also garnered him his third consecutive win, following an 0-3 start.
Freshman Jackson LoBianco — who typically anchors shortstop — and junior Chris Horst both threw 1-2-3 innings out of the pen.
At the dish, junior Ben Werkheiser fueled the oodles of Raider hits with two doubles, a 2-for-4 line and an RBI. Behind him, sophomore Lake Lloyd sported a 2-for-3 total, including a two-RBI two-bagger, his third double of the day after a pair in Game 1. Redshirt-freshman Andres Garcia and graduate Jordan Yoder also knocked extra-base hits, Garcia going 2-for-4 and Yoder boasting a 2-for-3 line.
Game 3 Friday did not fare to be as kind to the Raiders, as SU found themselves on the butt end of a 7-0 lopsided defeat.
The Raiders could muster all of four hits with Lloyd adding another two-bagger to his Thursday-Friday resume. Zurawski’s 15-game hitting streak came to a close, as he was held hitless across three plate appearances.
On the rubber, freshman Kaleb Sophy (1-2) struggled to find his command. KU tacked Sophy for five earned runs, nine hits and four walks in 4 1/3 innings of action. He also wrung up nine Golden Bears, a strikeout shy of three straight games with double-digit Ks.
KU’s Zach Male tossed a complete game, striking out four in the process.
The Raiders righted the ship in Game 4 to the tune of an 8-3 victory, as freshman Gabe Stotler (3-0) sculpted another impressive start in his debut season, keeping his undefeated record alive.
In 5 1/3 innings on the mound, Stotler scattered seven hits, allowed two earned runs and struck out four. He did not issue a base-on-balls.
Labarre slammed the door on the remaining 1 2/3 innings, allowing two knocks and ringing up four.
SU’s bats reawakened with Werskheiser cruising in the batter’s box. This time around, Werkhesier squared up for a perfect .1000 in four at-bats, rocketing a three-bagger in the second and a solo blast to right field in the fifth. The solo shot coming in the form of his sixth home run on the season.
Darden kept the pedal down, pitching in a team-high three RBIs on a first-frame two-RBI single and a fifth-inning RBI triple. He finished the game at 2-for-4.
The Raiders hope to continue their winning ways on the road against Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) powerhouse Millersville University Tuesday. It will be a doubleheader for SU, the only two contests for the week. First pitches from Marauder country are scheduled for 1 and 3:30 p.m.