STATE COLLEGE — Any win is a good win, but when it comes on Senior Day, the victory is just a little bit sweeter.
Finding themselves in the midst of a close battle with Central Dauphin, the State College baseball team broke a 4-all tie with a run in the fifth inning before adding three more in the sixth en route to an 8-4 win Monday.
“It is always nice to win on this particular day,” State College coach Bill Tussey said. “I think the boys pressed a little bit so we were a little ragged in spots. But in the end, they hung together, played some good baseball and were able to put some runs on the board.”
Bailey Ishler worked the first six innings to pick up the win. The righthander allowed the Rams four runs — two earned — on just four hits while walking three and striking out four.
“He (Ishler) started out rocky and that might be our (coaches’) fault a little bit,” Tussey said. “He threw a changeup right down the middle and of course their kid jumped right on it. After that, he came back to pitch three clean innings through the fourth and he looked good.”
After Central Dauphin got to Ishler for the pair of runs in the first, Brandon Raquet quickly took care of that deficit when he picked on a fastball offering from Ram pitcher Aaron Gress and drove the ball well over the right fielder’s head for a three-run home run.
“I think it was a 1-0 count and he threw me a fastball right down the middle,” Raquet explained. “I put a good swing on it and I was able to hit it pretty far.”
The Little Lions upped their lead to 4-2 in the third on a single by Ken Craig and an RBI single by Chris Adams. The Rams then got themselves even with a pair of runs in an “ugly” fifth inning with the help of three walks, two physical and several mental State College mistakes.
“He (Ishler) didn’t get a lot of help from his defense in that fifth inning, but it was just one of those innings that you have every once in a while,” Tussey said. “For whatever the reason, maybe they are pressing a little bit and instead of focusing on just going for outs, everybody is trying to make the big play rather than just making a routine play.”
As for breaking the 4-all deadlock, Tussey said that has been one characteristic of this year’s squad that wrapped up a Mid Penn Conference Commonwealth Division regular-season title Monday.
“We have been that way all year,” he said. “This team just doesn’t give up and they just play baseball right through the end (of the game). As frustrating as some of our losses have been, it hasn’t been because they gave up. It was just one of those days where they were outplayed.”
The Little Lions scored once in the fifth before singles by Alec Lose, Ben Shawley, Calvin Sichler and Craig did the job in the sixth to complete the scoring.
“We got a big hit from the bottom of the order (Lose) and then a sub comes up with a big hit (Shawley),” Tussey said. “When that happened, you could just tell that the intensity was back in our game.”
Although the Little Lions (14-4) still have a lot of baseball to play, they bid farewell to seven seniors, who played the final game on their home field. Comprising that group are Jonathan Bergman, Tyler LeBarron, Derek Van Horn, Lose, Nick Raquet, Sichler and Craig.
“That is just a great group of boys,” Tussey said while fighting back emotions. “I have had a very pleasant two years and in some cases three years with this group. Today’s win is indicative of their attitude they have had through those years, both on and off the field. They are a close-knit bunch of good friends off the field and when they are on the field, it’s like ‘lets play ball.’ They have given us everything we ever asked of them and I am just extremely proud of this group of seniors.”