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Wildcat Baseball Team Claims Title; Softball Squad Second


Michael J. Stanzione, Pennsylvania College of Technology athletic director, with Wildcat coach Chris Howard, his men's baseball team and the Penn State University Athletic Conference championship trophy.It was “mission accomplished” for the Pennsylvania College of Technology baseball team Thursday in the Penn State University Athletic Conference championships, but the college’s softball team fell just short of its goal.

In baseball, the Wildcats of coach Chris Howard edged rival Penn State Beaver, 3-1, at Bowman Field in Williamsport to reclaim the conference crown they last won in 2006. The team completed a 31-13 season, including 19-4 in all conference games.

At Williamsport’s Elm Park in softball action, the Lady Wildcats needed one win Thursday against Penn State Hazleton to clinch their second straight PSUAC championship, but were swept 11-3 and 10-8 and finished second. Overall, they were 21-5 on the season, 19-5 in the conference.

Baseball Penn College opened double-elimination tournament play Wednesday with wins over Penn State Scranton, 5-4, and Penn State Beaver, 3-2 in 8 innings, and needed just one more victory to nail down the title.

In Wednesday’s win over Penn StateBeaver that set the stage for Thursday, Justin Crowther (Bear, Del.) dropped a two-out single over the head of Beaver’s first baseman, allowing Matt Mientus (Macungie) to score what turned out to be the winning run in the first extra inning.

“Their pitcher threw a great game, but Dan Preston (Little Meadows) went seven innings and gave us one of the best pitching performances we had all year. He did fantastic,” Howard said. Jeff Lucas (Bellefonte) came on in the eighth and shut down Beaver, 1-2-3.

“We had great defense the whole tournament,” Howard continued.

“Dan Glick made a play out in center field against Beaver that I’m sure they’ll be talking about for a long time. It seemed like he ran forever and made a diving catch onto the warning track, and flipped it over to Mientus and we doubled a runner up,” the coach said.

“We played solid in every phase of the game, and the pitching was incredible. The defense was there and we ground out runs. It wasn’t the normal drop 10 runs on teams; it was small ball.”

In the title-clincher Thursday, pitching ace Mark Shaffer (Hanover) was on the mound for Penn College and went the distance, improving his season record to 11-1.

“He’s such a smart pitcher out there. He makes the guys swing at his pitch. He pitched a great game,” Howard said.

“(Our players) had a bad taste in their mouth from last year when we just did not play well (the Wildcats finished fourth in the playoffs). That was something that drove everybody all year. They came ready to go. They worked hard. They did everything I ever asked of them,” Howard said.

Offensively Thursday, Mientus went 3-for-4, with a double.

“‘Mission accomplished’ is a great way to put it. It’s nice to see everything come together when it needs to come together,” Howard said. And the second-year coach admitted some relief, too.

During his professional baseball playing career, Howard said he once heard it said that when you are coaching and win it’s great, but it’s also a relief. He agreed.

“I’m happy for the guys, but there is a sense of relief that we finally did this thing. You hate the word potential. You want to bring that to fruition and turn it into championships. There are a lot of guys who have potential and don’t do anything with it. That’s what it boils down to,” Howard added.

“The baseball team had the strongest pitching in the tournament, and pitching carried us,” observed Mike Stanzione, Penn College director of athletics and also a former Wildcats coach.

Softball It wasn’t the ending that Roger Harris, in his seventh season as coach, had envisioned.

On Wednesday, Penn College opened tournament play by beatingPenn StateHazleton, 15-6, and Penn StateGreater Allegheny, 8-0. Tracy Deihm (Mohnton) was the winning pitcher in both games and improved her season record to 10-0.

Despite her only loss of the year in Thursday’s first game against Hazleton, Harris had nothing but good things to say of his star.

“That was one incredible girl. She had maybe three or four walks all season,” the coach said.

“We figured, if it wasn’t broke, don’t fix it,” he added of his decision to start her again Thursday, “but she just ran out of steam halfway through the first game.

“You start out with two wins under your belt, and you go into two games (Thursday) thinking that things are looking pretty good; but it didn’t turn out that way for us.

“All in all, I’ve very happy with the girls and the way they played throughout the season. They played very good ball. They just needed to play a little bit harder than (Penn State Hazleton) and that didn’t happen,” the coach observed.

“Hazleton played a very good game. Our hats are off to them,” Harris added. “Hazleton had a good club. They came back and took advantage of errors. I’ve said that it’s the girls that rise above the other players that makes champions.

“I told the girls afterward they have nothing to hang their heads about, and they really don’t,” Harris said. “They were a great bunch of girls all around.”

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