LEWISBURG, Pa. – Susquehanna senior closer Matt Smith (Blue Ridge Summit, Pa./Wyoming Seminary) worked out of a two-out, bases-loaded jam in the bottom of the ninth inning to preserve SU’s 6-4 Landmark Conference win over Juniata. The victory marked SU’s eighth in a row.
Smith picked up his sixth save in the process, the second highest single-season total in program history.
The game, which was played at Bucknell University’s Depew Field, saw each team pick up 12 hits apiece with SU’s Kyle Semmel (Burlington Twp., N.J./Holy Cross) accounting for four of those hits with one double and one triple. Semmel also scored twice and drove in another run. Nick Kennedy (Brookeville, Md./Good Council) went 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Starting pitcher Spencer Hotaling (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) went five full innings and gave up four runs – three earned – on nine hits with four strikeouts. He left the game with his team trailing 3-2 and reliever Eric Sorrano (Watchung, N.J./Watchung Hills) was credited with the win after three shutout innings. Smith tossed the ninth and gave up one hit and two walks en route to the save.
The Crusaders (8-3, 1-0) jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the third inning after Taylor Luckenbill (Pottsville, Pa./Nativity BVM) drove home Kennedy on a fielder’s choice.
Juniata (3-9, 0-1), however, countered with three runs in its half of the inning couresty of three hits and one SU error for a 3-1 score after three full innings of play.
Susquehanna got back one of those runs the very next inning on a Ben Miller (Columbia, Md./Hammond0 sac fly to right field that sent home Semmel, who had reached base on a double before taking third on an error. The Eagles put up a run of their own in the bottom of the inning, though, to make it 4-2.
That remained the score until the top of the sixth when the Crusaders made it a one-run game (4-3) on another Miller sac fly that again allowed Semmel to score.
Susquehanna then broke out for three runs in the seventh. Bryan Palsi’s (Brielle, N.J./Manasquan) two-out triple plated Ty Raubenstine (Elizabethville, Pa./Upper Dauphin Area) and Kennedy and Semmel followed with a RBI single to left center to plate Palsi and make it 6-4.
Juniata left two runners stranded in the seventh and Smith worked out of the bases-loaded situation in the ninth to make sure SU’s 6-4 lead held up.
The teams finish their three-game series tomorrow with a doubleheader starting at noon.
Baseball Opens League Play on a High Note