By BILL ALBRIGHT
For The Sun-Gazette
LOCK HAVEN -- When the Lock Haven University baseball team defeated Mansfield 7-6 in the nightcap of a PSAC doubleheader on Wednesday afternoon, it was more than just another win for the young Bald Eagles.
It meant the Bald Eagles had finally gotten the monkey off their backs as they snapped a 14-game losing skid.
"The guys swung the bats pretty well, but we still did a lot of those goofy things today that gave runs away," veteran Lock?Haven head coach Smokey Stover said. "It has been that way for quite a while now, you know, just little crazy things like balls just falling in for the other team while our guys would hit the ball hard, but right at somebody.
"And then in today's games we had too much miscommunication between our fielders and it has been one thing right after another. When that happens with a bunch of young guys, they start doubting themselves and in this conference, when you starting doubting yourself you wind up in trouble. For us, that is what has been going on."
One swing of the bat took care of things for the Bald Eagles in the second game as senior catcher Austin Botts hit a mammoth home run - his team-leading fifth - that turned into the game-winner.
"I felt good with the hitters we had coming up and with the wind blowing out, I was just hoping that one of them would get it in the air," Stover said. "Botts not only got it in the air, he hit it hard. I know I wasn't looking over my shoulder and I also think the guys had the feeling that one of them would get it done."
The Bald Eagles (12-25, 4-20 PSAC) have four games remaining in their season. Lock Haven travels to Shippensburg for a doubleheader Friday before the Red Raiders come to Foundation Field the following day to close out the 2014 campaign on LHU Senior Day.
"These guys knew from the beginning of the year and I kept telling people that with half of the team being freshmen, we would have to do everything perfect and not get anybody hurt for us to get into the playoffs," Stover said. "We lost our number two and three pitchers (Chad Speigle and Parker Watson) and then on top of that, we got a couple of other people hurt as well. Our shortstop (Josh Jones) broke his finger when he lost a ball in the sun and then Koch (second baseman Ryan) has been out with an ankle problem so things haven't been going real well for us. Sometimes you can get a break or two to spark the team, but we haven't been able to get any of those breaks this season. This win was big for us today and I am very happy with them."
In game one, Mansfield's Brandon Miller and LHU's Anthony Kyne opened the scoring for each team with solo home runs.
Mansfield went on top 3-1 with a pair of runs in the third, but the Bald Eagles came roaring back with four runs in the fourth to take a 5-3 lead.
In the fourth, the Mounties took advantage of four hits and a pair of errors to score a half dozen runs for a 9-5 lead before holding on for an 11-9 win.
Mansfield right-hander Quin Taylor pitched five innings and picked up the win. He allowed eight earned runs, struck out three and walked three.
Leading the Mountaineer hitters was Johnny LeClair who went 3 for 4 with three RBIs and two runs.
For LHU, Tyler Yesensky and Tyson Petersheim each went 3 for 4 to pace the 15-hit attack. Despite losing the game 11-9, the Bald Eagles out hit the Mounties 15-10.
In the second game, Mansfield broke on top 3-0 before LHU rallied back to take a 4-3 lead. The Bald Eagles extended their lead to 6-3 with a pair of runs in the fifth before Taylor Hillson doubled and Seth Tressler singled to deadlock the game at 6-6 to set the table for Botts' blast.
Botts finished the game with two hits and three RBIs in four at-bats. Yesensky went 2 for 4 with a double and two RBIs.
Working the final two innings, LHU lefty Joe Nestor picked up the win as he shut down the Mountaineers in the bottom of the seventh to seal the win.
Lock Haven 9-7
Lock Haven 010 404 0 - 9 15 3
Mansfield 102 611 X - 11 10 0
Aaron Lidgett, Dakota Pentz (5th), Zach Hawk (5th) and Austin Botts. Quin Taylor, Z. Sacoman (6th) and M. Kiessling. W- Taylor (5-4). L- Lidgett(0-2).
Top Lock Haven hitters: Tyson Petersheim 3-4 2 RBI, 2 runs; Scott Zuback 2-4 2 RBI, run; Austin Botts 2-4 2 RBI; Tyler Yesensky 3-4 run. Top Mansfield hitters: Brandon Miller 2-3 4 RBI, 3 runs; J. LeClair 3-4 3 RBI, 2 runs.
Lock Haven 004 020 1 - 7 10 3
Mansfield 120 021 0 - 6 8 3
Cody Godfrey, Evan Moyer (2nd), Madison Neddo (3rd), Joe Nestor (6th) and Austin Botts. J. Mapstone, Louis Sick (5th) and Wes Custer. W- Nestor (4-5). L- Sick (2-4).
Top Lock Haven hitters: Austin Botts 2-4 HR, 3 RBI, 2 runs; Anthony Kyne 2-4 run; Tyler Yesensky 2-4 2 RBI. Top Mansfield hitters: Wes Baylor 2-3 run; T. Hillson 1-3 2 runs.
Records: Lock Haven (12-25); Mansfield (19-20). Next: Shippensburg at Lock Haven (Fri.)