Up-and-down weekend results in split between IUP and CalU

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The Crimson Hawks split their four-game weekend series with California University of Pennsylvania, bringing their Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference record to 9-11.

“Every time you play a series,” head coach Jeff Ditch said, “you always wish you would have won one more than you did. Obviously, their two left-handers [Jack] Dennis, in Game 1 and [GJ] Senchak in Game 3 held us down pretty good.”

In the first game against Cal U, which IUP lost 10-5 Friday, the Crimson Hawks struggled to score until a three-run sixth inning started by a Hunter Bigler (senior, kinesiology, health & sport science) double down the right field line.

The second game, which IUP won 9-8 in extra innings, was a nailbiter.

Dan Sepic (sophomore, hospitality management) scored the game-winning run on an error with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning.

He also picked up the win on the mound, making his record 4-2 on the season.

The Vulcans then traveled to IUP Saturday for the second of two doubleheaders. In the first game, they defeated the Crimson Hawks 7-5.

The Crimson Hawks’ Michael Klingensmith (sophomore, kinesiology, health & sport science) picked up the loss, dropping to 2-3 on the year.

Offensively, IUP outhit Cal U, 11-7.

In the second game, the Crimson Hawks defeated the Vulcans 21-6 thanks to a strong pitching performance from Jeff Allen (freshman, criminology) and a season-high eight batters recording multi-hit games.

IUP had 25 hits in six innings at the plate.

The Crimson Hawks scored nine runs in the first inning and eight in the third.

“When you’re coaching third base and your players are just hitting and running around the bases for a long period of time… that’s what it takes to win games,” Ditch said.

Scott Hess (junior, safety sciences) had a big weekend for the Crimson Hawks, going 8 for 14 in the four-game stretch, driving in eight runs in the process.

“He’s real confident at the plate and having great at-bats,” Ditch said.

“He’s so strong. He might be the strongest guy on our team. And when he hits the ball, it really goes.”

Hess earned IUP Athlete of the Week and PSAC West Baseball Athlete of the Week following his performance.

“It’s great to be honored with athlete of the week,” he said. “When I’m at the plate, I just take it one pitch at a time. I don’t try to do too much in the situation.”

The Crimson Hawks travel to Lock Haven University 3 p.m. Tuesday for one game.

Ditch said Nate Dickey (sophomore, finance and legal studies) will get the start.

Colin Claus (freshman, kinesiology, health & sport science) and Derek Cursio (freshman, management) will each get a couple innings of work today, as well.

The team will then travel to Point Stadium in Johnstown to play a doubleheader against the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Mountain Cats.

Coach Ditch said that this series is crucial because the Mountain Cats are right behind IUP in the conference standings.

“We have eight league games left, and we control our own destination,” Ditch said. “Obviously, we have to win a bunch of those games.”

The Crimson Hawks have been performing well in all aspects of the game as of late, according to Ditch.

“Our pitchers have a bulldog mentality,” Ditch said. “They go on the mound, and they fight for us.”

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown will travel to IUP Saturday for a doubleheader at Owen Dougherty Field.