FORT PIERCE, Fla. – The Susquehanna baseball squad defeated La Roche 3-2 on Wednesday afternoon for the Crusaders’ fourth-consecutive win after dropping their first three contests to begin the season.
Freshman Eric Soranno (Watchung, N.J. / Watchung Hills) got his first career start and threw a solid game against the Redhawks. The right hander lasted six innings, scattering only four hits, allowing one run while striking out five.
The Crusaders (4-3) outhit La Roche (4-4) by an 11-6 margin but unfortunately, SU stranded 12 base runners. However, two clutch doubles in the late innings proved to be enough insurance to hold off La Roche.
The contest started with SU jumping out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first. Senior Ty Raubenstine (Elizabethville, Pa. / Upper Dauphin Area) led off the game with a walk and eventually scored on a wild pitch to give the Crusaders a one-run edge.
La Roche knotted the game at 1-1 in the bottom of the frame, using a pair of singles and a costly error to tie the contest. After the first, Soranno allowed only five base runners during the remainder of his outing and did not allow the Redhawks to score.
The Orange & Maroon recorded their second run of the game during the top of the sixth as junior Kyle Semmel (Burlington Twp., N.J. / Holy Cross) led off the inning with a single up the middle. Freshman Tom Shields (Chalfont, Pa. / Central Bucks South) followed with a double down the left field line, scoring Semmel and giving SU a 2-1 lead.
In the top of the seventh, SU threatened to score, having bases loaded without any outs. Raubenstine and Taylor Luckenbill (Pottsville, Pa. / Nativity BVM) led off with back-to-back singles and Bryan Palsi (Brielle, N.J. / Manasquan) drew a walk. But the Redhawks threw two runners out at home on fielder’s choices and held the game to a one-run difference.
Freshman A.J. Pinto (Bronxville, N.Y. / Fordham Prep) relieved Soranno in the seventh and threw two innings of shutout baseball, allowing only one base runner on an error. The Crusaders tacked on a third run in the top of the ninth with Luckenbill starting the frame with a single to left and Palsi following with a base knock to center. Two batters later, Semmel ripped a double to left, scoring Luckenbill, as SU went ahead 3-1.
Senior closer Matt Smith (Blue Ridge Summit, Pa. / Wyoming Seminary) entered in the bottom of the ninth and allowed a two-out triple and double as La Roche got within one, 3-2. But Smith made the next batter fly out to right field for the final out, earning his third save of the year.
Luckenbill finished the afternoon with a game-high three base knocks, with Raubenstine and Semmel both recording a pair of hits to lead the Crusader offense.
SU plays Marywood tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.