Crimson Hawks swept in important series at hands of UPJ

The Indiana University of Pennsylvania baseball team was swept by the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown in its late afternoon doubleheader Saturday in front of a home crowd that included IUP President Michael Driscoll.

In the first matinee, the Mountain Cats defeated IUP 13-9, concluding the highest-scoring game for either team this season.

There were 19 hits: six were extra base hits, one of which was a two-run home run that came off the bat of Crimson Hawks catcher Jon O’Neill (junior, criminology). That was his team-leading second dinger of the season.

Dylan Tice (junior, exercise science), Mike Lupia (redshirt junior, health and physical education) and O’Neill each drove in two runs.

Ryan Uhl (junior, finance) added an RBI in the bottom of the first with a sacrifice fly to center field.

“We did score some runs in the first game, which was a positive,” head coach Jeff Ditch said. “We didn’t pitch very good and our defense wasn’t good either.”

Ditch credited the Mountain Cats for “doing a lot of things right,” while singling out UPJ’s junior leadoff hitter Brett Marabito.

In the first game, Marabito went five for five with two doubles, plating six runs batted in and also reaching home plate three times.

That wasn’t all for the left-handed speedster, who led his team to a 9-2 win in the second game as well.

He went four for four, and reached base after being hit by a Jared Weed (senior, marketing) fastball in the sixth inning.

Marabito added four more RBIs to his daily count and was two shy of doubling his season total of 12 RBIs coming into Saturday’s games.

“I think he’s just hot,” said Kyle Zaorski (junior, finance) who was responsible for allowing three of Marabito’s nine hits on the day, while allowing seven earned runs in just four innings of work.

“I mean, he came into the series with an okay batting average, and today he was just hitting whatever we were throwing at him. There’s not much else you can do.”

Marabito was batting .271 before the four game series versus IUP that began Friday, ranking him seventh best on the team.

He’s now drastically raised his average to a team-leading .357.

“My teammates were joking around and not touching me because I was too hot to be touched,” Marabito said. “That’s the first time I’ve ever done anything like that, but winning these two games was even bigger than getting nine hits.”

For the first time all year, Tice was not the starting shortstop for the Crimson Hawks.

His replacement Rick Jones (sophomore, criminology) didn’t record an error all day, but the Crimson Hawks did record four errors on the day.

Ditch said Tice has been battling a shoulder injury since Friday’s doubleheader.

Tice, the team’s leader in batting average at .371, will continue to serve as the designated hitter until he visits with doctors some time during the week to determine the extent of his injury.

“It’s huge anytime anybody in your starting lineup gets hurt,” Ditch said. “Especially a key guy like Tice who usually plays short everyday, which is really your main spot defensively.”

In the meantime, Jones will continue to flash his leather at shortstop rather than his usual position.

Jones leads the team in errors this year with seven.

IUP is now 6-12 in Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West play with 10 games left on the schedule, sitting two games back of California University of Pennsylvania and four games back of UPJ, who holds the last playoff position. The Crimson Hawks don’t have the head-to-head with either team.

Eight of the 10 remaining PSAC West games will be against Gannon University and Clarion University. Those two opponents are a combined 8-24 in divisional play this season.

The Crimson Hawks welcome second-place Mercyhurst University to Indiana for a two-game series Wednesday.

The series was originally scheduled for Tuesday, but was pushed back a day.

IUP swept the Lakers in a two-game series on the road April 1.

First pitch at Owen Dougherty Field will be at 1 p.m.