IUP remains hot, gives itself a shot to make the playoffs

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The IUP baseball season is winding down, and the Crimson Hawks have found themselves with a chance to make the postseason.

Their conference record is now 12-12 after winning three of five games this past week.

IUP lost 18-16 at Lock Haven University April 19.

The Crimson Hawks had 25 hits in the ballgame, with Chris Schaedel (senior, hospitality management) and Cory Wheeler (sophomore, kinesiology, health & sport science) leading the team with four apiece.

The Crimson Hawks then traveled to the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown Friday for two games, which they split with the Mountain Cats.

In the first game, Christian McClure (sophomore, criminology) pitched a complete game, which IUP won, 11-8.

Chris Calliari (junior, kinesiology, health & sport science) hit a two-run homer with one out in the top of the seventh to put the Crimson Hawks in the lead. That was his team-leading seventh home run.

The Crimson Hawks struggled in the second game, recording only five hits and giving up 14 runs.

Of those runs, 11 were scored in the third inning, in which IUP pitchers faced 14 batters.

Anthony Rigous (sophomore, accounting) recorded two RBIs in the contest.

On Saturday, the Mountain Cats and the Crimson Hawks squared off for two more games at Owen Dougherty Field in Indiana.

Michael Klingensmith (sophomore, kinesiology, health & sport science) gave up three earned runs in six innings of work, as the Crimson Hawks downed the Mountain Cats, 10-5.

Rick Jones (senior, criminology) went 3 for 4 on the day, driving in three runs.

Two of Jones’ three hits were triples.

In the final game Saturday, IUP continued to ride a strong offense, winning 10-8 and recording more than 10 hits in a game for the fourth time in the last five contests.

“That was a great weekend at [University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown],” head coach Jeff Ditch said.

“That will give us momentum. Our hitters have been doing a great job staying on pitches, particularly the outside half. We’ve been driving the ball to the opposite-field gap with authority the last few weeks.”

Players such as Jones and Wheeler have been consistently having good at-bats, Ditch said.

“The perfect thing that a hitter can do is walk,” Ditch said. “Obviously, the next best thing you can do is hit a line drive, and it’s been productive the last couple weeks. We’ve been taking walks and hitting balls hard.”

Jeff Allen (freshman, criminology) pitched a good game, as well, striking out seven batters in 5.2 innings.

“He’s only a freshman, but he’s pitching like he’s an upperclassman right now,” Ditch said.

Wheeler was named an IUP Athlete of the Week after batting .524 over the past five games, driving in seven runs in the process.

“It’s an honor to be an IUP athlete of the week,” Wheeler said. “In my eyes, it was a team effort over the weekend and throughout the whole season.”

In the beginning of the season, Wheeler batted toward the bottom of the lineup, but Coach Ditch has slotted him in the two spot recently.

“He has just had so many good at-bats that he earned that two-spot,” Ditch said.

“He’s made the top of our lineup very productive.”

IUP’s last four games of the season will take place Friday and Saturday against Mercyhurst University.

IUP will host the Lakers at Owen Dougherty Field Friday for Senior Day.

The Crimson Hawks have a remote chance to make the postseason, as they trail California University of Pennsylvania by three games coming into the last weekend of the season.

However, Ditch isn’t thinking about that until it happens.

“You just need to take care of your own business,” Ditch said. “Then, when it’s all done, you look at the conference standings and see where you’re at. We’ll just focus on us, and at the end of the day the conference standings will determine who goes to the playoffs and who doesn’t.”

The Crimson Hawks travel to Erie Saturday for a doubleheader against Mercyhurst.