The Slippery Rock baseball team traveled to Bel Air, Maryland this past weekend to kick off their 2019 campaign in a three-game series against a familiar foe in Shippensburg University. The Green and White fell just short in their first game of the season by a final score of 9-8 but were able to bounce back in the first of two matches on Monday, sinking the Raiders in extra innings in a 1-0 affair. However, the rubber match would not go so smooth for The Rock as they were shelled by Shippensburg bats, leading to a 15-5 final score in the Raiders’ favor. Slippery Rock now sits at 1-2 overall this season, having yet to start league play in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference.
Sunday’s matchup was the first of the season for Slippery Rock, and the day started out nearly as tough as one could imagine. Entering the sixth inning, The Rock found themselves in a 7-0 deficit, unable to find any traction throughout the game. However, momentum started to shift in the Green and White’s direction as Joe Campagna, Tyler Merigliano and Ray Scala combined to bat in four RBIs to shrink Shippensburg lead to a three-run margin.
In the seventh inning, The Raiders managed to knock in another run and extend their lead back out to a four-run advantage, but thanks to another pair of RBIs from Campagna in the bottom frame and a sacrifice fly courtesy of Joe Sibeto in the eighth inning, The Rock was threatening to tie the game heading into the ninth only down by a score of 8-7.
In the top of the ninth inning, Shippensburg managed to add some insurance to their lead, scoring a run to give themselves a two–run advantage heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. It was looking to be an easy save for the Raiders as they sent the first pair of Slippery Rock batters packing, but it was Campagna’s day as he got on base with another double before being advanced by the bat of Mike Collins.
With two runners on base, Merigliano then represented the go-ahead run as he stepped up to the plate and was able to put the ball into play, scoring Campagna. However, Collins was thrown out at home to deliver the final blow to The rock’s comeback hopes, ending the game in a dramatic 9-8 Shippensburg victory.
Contrary to Sunday’s back and forth contest, the first game of Monday’s doubleheader showcased a defensive battle between The Rock’s Tanner Stanz and Shippensburg’s Dalton Oates. Both pitchers combined to let up zero runs in six innings pitched before the bullpens of each club took over.
Slippery Rock’s go-to reliever Wyatt Daugherty (1-0) ensured that no Raider crossed home plate in his inning of relief, but Shippensburg’s Michael Hope (0-2) was able to blank the Green and White as well, sending the game into extra innings with no score to report.
With one out in the top of the eighth inning, Abraham Mow displayed his reliable contact hitting ability, sending a line-drive into center field, good for a single. Shippensburg bounced back by retiring the next Rock batter, putting the pressure on Slippery Rock to get on the board with two outs. Campagna continued his weekend heroics by sending a scorching line-drive into right field which allowed Mow to score all the way from first base, giving The Rock and the game its first score of the day. Slippery Rock would maintain a 1-0 advantage over the Raiders heading into a crucial save situation in the bottom of the eighth inning. Daugherty would shut down Shippensburg, however, recording two strikeouts and a fly-out to give Slippery Rock their first win of the young season.
The day was not yet over for The Rock, as the rubber match against Shippensburg was just a few hours later. Mow got things started early for Slippery Rock by hitting a triple and was shortly driven home courtesy of a Frankie Jezioro single. Mow would also send a ball over the fences in the third inning, but Shippensburg’s bats caught fire despite going ice-cold just hours earlier in the previous game. Shippensburg jumped out to an early 8-2 lead in the fourth inning and never looked back as they cruised to a 15-5 victory over Slippery Rock.
The Rock now faces a four-game series against an Atlantic Region opponent in West Virginia State. Doubleheaders will be played on both Saturday and Sunday in Institute, West Virginia. The first pitch of game one is scheduled to be thrown at 12 p.m. each day.