By Daniel Whitehead
HARRISBURG, Pa.—Having struggled to connect with the ball early on this season, the Southern Virginia University baseball team changed its ways by combining for 31 runs in respective 8-4 and 23-12 victories over Penn State Harrisburg this evening in a doubleheader at In The Net in Palmyra, Pa.
The two victories were historic for the Knights (3-9) as they were the first wins against a Capital Athletic Conference opponent in the program's first year in the league. The 23 runs against the Nittany Lions in the second game was the most since April 10 of last season when Southern Virginia defeated Christendom by a 23-1 score. Freshman Ryan Gabriel also recorded his first career home run and first for the Knights this season in the second game of the twinbill.
After allowing three Nittany Lion runs through the first five innings, the Knights scored seven runs in the sixth inning to go up, 8-3. Hunter Allen reached first on a fielding error to score Jordan Keefer. Nick Lyons was then hit by a pitch to bring in Gabriel, who had earned a double to left center two batters ahead. Mitch Mantle then doubled down the right field line to score two RBI as Allen came in as well as Keenan Johnson, who had been walked beforehand. King singled up the middle to score Mantle before a Gabriel single to the left side brought in King for the final score of the inning.
Harrisburg would score a run in the bottom of the sixth but both teams went scoreless the remaining three innings for the 8-4 Knight victory. King pitched the entire game for Southern Virginia, allowing 17 hits and four earned runs but struck out eight Nittany Lion batters in 40 at-bats. The win marked his first victory of the season.
In the second game, the Knights scored two runs apiece in the second, third and fifth innings for a 6-0 advantage through the top of the fifth. Gabriel earned his homerun in the fifth, smacking the ball over the center field fence for a two-run homer that also scored Keefer, who was walked before Gabriel took the plate.
Southern Virginia scored five runs in the seventh to extend its lead to 11-4. Allen reached first on a fielder's choice to score Zach McNally, who had singled to right field to start the inning. Lyons then singled down the left field line to bring in Keefer. Mantle then singled up the middle to score Allen before King would eventually score Mantle.
Both teams finished the game contesting who could bring in more runs as the Knights earned eight security runs in the final inning while the Lions scored five.
Gage Bigelow earned the win on the mound as he pitched 4.1 innings, allowing just one run while walking six batters and striking out six Lions. Jeremy Walker pitched two innings while Mantle put in one inning. Chris Madison contributing 1.1 innings in Knights' win.
In 49 at-bats in the second game, Southern Virginia earned 23 runs, 23 hits and 20 RBI.
Southern Virginia continues CAC play on the road Wednesday with a game at Mary Washington. The first pitch is slated for 3 p.m. in Fredericksburg, Va.