Rock defeats Mansfield, 5-4

Published by adviser, Author: Mike Hurliman - Rocket Contributor, Date: April 13, 2012
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Rock Baseball defeated Mansfield University on Sunday, April 1 by the score of 5 to 4 at Jack Critchfield Park to extend the Green and White’s winning streak to four games.

Pitcher Kyle Schneider threw a four-hit shutout through seven innings of work and struck out nine Mansfield batters before Anthony Naso came in for relief. Slippery Rock managed to drive in one run in the bottom of the sixth inning on a two-out single from third baseman Jamison Walck. Walck was the Rock’s top offensive production, going three for five with two RBIs, one of which was the game winning RBI in the bottom of the ninth. The game went into extra innings where Naso gave up four hits on four runs in the eighth and ninth innings to give Mansfield a 4 to 3 lead going into the bottom of the ninth. With runners on first and second, Ben Bechtold tied the game with an RBI single and Walck followed with his second RBI to give Slippery Rock the 5 to 4 victory.

Coach Jeff Messer has been adamant in emphasizing that the outcome of a game can be determined by one pitch or one swing of the bat.

“The main theme of practice has been to maximize our opportunities while minimizing our mistakes,” Messer said. “The players have been working hard in making better decisions at the plate and in the field.”

Against Mansfield, one swing of the bat was able to propel Slippery Rock to victory in the bottom of the 9th, as the Rock continued their winning streak, which began on March 31st against Clarion University.

The four-game series against Clarion began with a 4 to 3 loss, but was followed with a dominating 10 to 1 victory over the Golden Eagles.

In the first game of their first doubleheader, Slippery Rock gave up two runs in the second inning and two runs in the third inning to go down 4 to 0 early in the game. Both teams had seven hits, but the Rock was unable to mount the comeback and score the tying run. Zach Jeney pitched a complete game for the Rock with six strikeouts, three walks, and two earned runs. Seniors Carter Haponski and Derek Carr were the two Rock batters able to have multiple hits for the Rock in the loss.

In the second game, Slippery Rock jumped out to a seven run lead in the bottom of the first inning and never looked back. Freshman Garret Petersen pitched a complete game, two-hitter as he struck out two Clarion batters and allowed one run to cross the plate. Slippery Rock’s bats produced 10 runs on 13 hits, led by Carr who went 3 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored. Matt Kosik and Lee Foxton, along with Haponski, drove in a combined six runs and had two hits each.

The joke was on Clarion’s pitching staff on the April Fool’s Day doubleheader between Slippery Rock and Clarion as the Rock won back to back games in similar fashion by scoring double digit run totals in each game. Slippery Rock scored 12 runs on 11 hits and were credited with 10 RBIs, led by Matt Kengor who had three of those ten. Lou Trivino pitched all seven innings and struck out nine batters while only allowing one run to cross the plate on five hits.

The second game of the doubleheader had a similar stat line to the second game of Friday’s doubleheader as Slippery Rock scored 10 runs again on 13 hits. Slippery Rock was up 4 to 0 in the middle of inning number three and put up four runs in the top of the fifth to go up 10 to 3. Clarion was unable to recover from the deficit, but managed to score two runs in two separate innings to end the game with a score of 10 to 5. Nic McCowin pitched three innings and had two strikeouts and two earned runs, but was given a no-decision as John Kovalik came in for four relief innings and was credited with the victory. Kovalik had four strikeouts and three earned runs on three hits. John Schaffer had three of Slippery Rock’s nine total RBIs for the game in his five plate appearances.

Slippery Rock has a four-game series coming up against Fairmont State University on April 6 and 7 at Jack Critchfield Park. The series is short break from PSAC competition as the Rock will be going up against Mercyhurst College (22-8) in a four-game series with PSAC playoff implications. Coach Messer admitted the difficulty in not looking ahead to the big conference series against Mercyhurst, but is focused on preparing for Fairmont State.

“I was able to scout Mercyhurst Tuesday and will have a game plan for Mercyhurst starting on Monday,” Messer said. “We need to continue to get better physically and mentally regardless of the team.  The difference between winning and losing is a fine line.”

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