Although his team took a 5-2 log into Saturday’s non-conference baseball game with McDowell, State College coach Bill Tussey was waiting for his team to put together a complete game from first pitch to the final out.
After the matchup with McDowell, Tussey’s wait is over as the Little Lions played all three phases of the game well while dismantling the Trojans by the final of 9-2 at sun-splashed Community Field.
“I am very pleased with the effort for all seven innings,” Tussey said. “To be honest about it, that is one thing we have lacked in a number of games earlier this year. But today right from the get go, they just kept the pressure on. They hustled and when the other team made a mistake, we capitalized on it. I am just really pleased with the effort.”
While winning the game by seven runs, Tussey had the opportunity to give a host of players some playing time.
“Today was great for us to basically get that second unit in if you will,” Tussey said. “There is nothing like positive game reps to build confidence because you know you are going to need that (depth) down the road at some point in the season.”
In the pitching department, Tussey had the opportunity to give some time to four of his hurlers. Tucker Triebold got the start and the win, while working on the tandem with Triebold were Tristen Ballenger, Kyle Peterson and Oliver Dailey.
Triebold only had one hiccup in his effort and that came in the third inning when he surrendered three straight singles. However, on the positive side, the righty refocused to record three straight strikeouts, all of the looking variety.
“I was really pleased with the pitching, with the exception of the third inning when Tucker struggled a little bit,” Tussey said. “But even then he came right back, found the zone and got himself out of trouble. I was very pleased with the pitching because they are finally getting that concept of powering the bottom half of the strike zone. If they do that, by and large, good things will happen and hopefully today’s effort reinforces that.”
In the hitting aspect of the game, the Little Lions pounded two McDowell pitchers for a dozen hits while scoring the nine runs.
Leading the way was catcher Sam Plafcan, who finished with three hits in four at-bats with two singles, a double and four RBI.
“I try to hit the inner half of the ball and today I was able to do that,” Plafcan said. “The coaches always talk about staying on top of the ball and hitting line drives. I just go up there (to the plate), try to relax, try to hit the ball hard and have fun with it.”
As a catcher, Plafcan doesn’t feel that he has an advantage offensively other than he has a good knowledge of the umpire’s strike zone.
“It helps me just knowing the umpire’s strike zone,” he said. “That might be a slight advantage over my teammates because they see it three or four times whereas I look at it the whole game. Our pitchers did a really good job today. They came in, threw strikes, didn’t walk anybody and just did their job.”
In addition to Plafcan, other Little Lions who made noise with the sticks were Brandon Raquet with a pair of hits including a double, Greg Copenhaver with a pair of singles and one RBI and Brett Graham and Zach Ripka each with a double.
Although the game was of the non-conference variety, Tussey is hoping that going against a “foreign” opponent will help his club for the rest of the season.
“That is why you play these games,” said Tussey. “In the Mid Penn, we see those guys all the time so it is nice to see a good program with a little different philosophy, both offensively and defensively, than we normally see in the Mid Penn. They (Trojans) are a solid ball club and again, I give our guys a lot of credit because they were in the game for all seven innings and everything went well for us today.”
Now 6-2, the Little Lions will next see action Tuesday when they host Cedar Cliff in a Mid Penn conference outing. The two teams will complete a suspended game beginning at 3 p.m. with the regularly scheduled game to follow.