When the bottom of the sixth inning turned into a marathon, State College reliever Tyler LeBarron retreated to the bullpen.
The first seven Little Lions reached base and the first four scored in the inning to break State College’s tie with Chambersburg and built a comfortable lead heading to the seventh. Though the cushion would help LeBarron relax for the final three outs, he still had to be ready to finish the job.
“It gets old just sitting on the bench,” LeBarron said, “so you got to stay loose or else go back out there and feel stiff, not in the same groove.”
LeBarron stayed sharp in the seventh inning and closed out the Little Lions’ 9-5 win over Chambersburg in a Mid Penn Conference Commonwealth division game Monday. The Little Lions sent 10 hitters to the plate and scored four runs in the sixth inning, and LeBarron threw two scoreless innings for the win. Nine different State College players recorded hits, and seven drove in runs. Shortstop Chris Adams went 3-for-5 and scored two runs, and right fielder Derek Van Horn finished 2 for 3 with one run and one RBI.
Little Lions sophomore Bailey Ishler made his first varsity start, allowing five runs on five hits in five innings.
Ishler overcame a rough start to keep State College (2-0) in the game.
The right-hander walked the first three batters of the game and hit another as the Trojans (2-2) jumped out to a 3-0 lead. But he settled in and threw three straight scoreless innings to help State College take a 5-3 lead heading into the fifth.
“The nerves got to me a little bit in the first inning,” Ishler said. “But I calmed down.”
Ishler was cruising through the top of the fifth to protect State College’s lead.
He retired Chambersburg’s Jesse Helman and Carlin Christian on a flyout and groundout before forcing Colby Dice to ground a slow roller to third base. State College’s Calvin Sichler charged the ball and fired across the diamond, but first baseman Ken Craig was pulled off the bag and Dice reached safely. After Bryce Fiegl poked a single into center field, both runners advanced to second and third on a passed ball.
An intentional walk loaded the bases. And Trojans catcher Angelo Hronis ripped a line drive into right field to score both runs and tie the game at 5.
Ishler’s debut came to an end after the fifth, and State College coach Bill Tussey was pleased with the performance.
“He’s only a sophomore,” Tussey said. “And we’ve seen all the time when sophomores come over, whether it be pitcher or any other position, there’s always that first time on the mound or first at bat or first ball hit at them they’re always a little nervous. Everything gets tight and then you try to do too much. They got to remember it’s just baseball.”
LeBarron entered and pitched a scoreless sixth inning to keep the teams tied.
Going into the bottom half, Tussey kept his message simple. He told his players to relax and explained his approach for the inning.
“We let them know we were gonna play for one run,” Tussey said. “And fortunately, we got a few more.”
Adams led off with a single into left field. Sichler laid down a bunt to move him over and beat the throw for a single. Craig grounded a two-strike pitch to Trojans second baseman Helman, who made a diving stop but threw the ball away to allow Adams to score.
State College had its run and the lead, but the Little Lions’ rally was only starting.
Van Horn was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs. And Tussey called on Kyle Peterson to pinch hit for lefty Brandon Raquet. The coach wanted a right-handed bat to face Chambersburg left-hander Steven Smith, and he went with Peterson for his power.
With little time to prepare, Peterson grabbed a bat and stepped to the plate.
“I knew I had to warm up quick because I had been sitting down the entire game,” Peterson said. “Whenever he called on me, I knew I had to hustle up and get ready, but like I said, whenever the momentum is going through you, you’re not really thinking about how loose and sore you are, you’re thinking I got to get this job done for my guys.”
Peterson got the job done, hammering a line drive into left field and driving in two runs to push State College’s lead to 8-5.
The big inning clinched the win, but Tussey saw plenty to improve at the plate and on the mound moving forward.
“We learned a lot today,” Tussey said.