Crusaders clinch playoff seed in win

BY KEVIN JONES – STAFF WRITER

The Susquehanna baseball team hosted a series against conference opponent Scranton on the weekend of April 23 and April 24. Susquehanna split the first two games on April 23 and won the final game on April 24.

Susquehanna coach Denny Bowers said that before the series he was thinking about winning the series, which would clinch a playoff spot for the team.

He also stressed the importance of playing consistently.

Susquehanna won game one of the April 24 doubleheader 4-2. The game remained scoreless until the fourth inning when Scranton scored two runs to take the lead 2-0.

Susquehanna struck back in the fifth inning with two runs, thanks to a pair of RBI singles by senior third baseman Bryan Palsi and junior outfielder Taylor Luckenbill, to tie the game at two.

Susquehanna did not let up, scoring two runs in the sixth inning on a single by sophomore catcher Zach Leone and a double by senior outfielder Matt Cassinelli to give the team a 4-2 lead. Susquehanna was able to hold on and get the win.

Junior John Cooley got the start on the mound for Susquehanna and got the win. In the six innings he pitched, Cooley gave up two runs on five hits while striking out four and walking two batters.
“It was a real good chance for us to play a quality opponent and an opportunity to widen the gap against a team we could face in the playoffs,” Cooley said.

Susquehanna was outpitched in game two and lost 7-1. Scranton struck first in the game with a run in the first inning on an RBI single. Susquehanna tied the game in the second inning when junior first baseman Dylan Jenkins hit a solo home run.

Scranton scored three runs in the fourth inning on a pair of base hits giving the Royals a 4-1 lead. Scranton capped off the game with a three run fifth inning on a pair of base hits, putting Susquehanna in a 7-1 hole that the Crusaders were unable to overcome.

Susquehanna won game three

of the series on April 24 by a 10-8 final score.
There was a lot of offense early in the game. Scranton jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the second inning with four runs in the first and three runs in the second before Susquehanna started its comeback.
Susquehanna scored six runs in the second inning on a RBI single by senior catcher Rob Marcickiewicz, a two run double by senior outfielder Justin Cassinelli and a two run home run by Luckenbill. An error by Scranton then allowed Leone to score for the last run of the inning. Scranton scored another run in the top of the third to extend its lead to 8-6.

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Susquehanna scored three runs in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a pair of home runs from Leone and Matt Cassinelli to take a 9-8 lead. They expanded the lead a little more with a run in the eighth for a 10-8 final.

Bowers said he felt the team allowed too many free base runners and struggled at the plate in game two, but he was proud of the team for coming back from a 7-0 deficit to win in the final game of the series.

Cooley said that he was satisfied with the overall result of the series because the team accomplished the goal of winning the series, even though the loss was disappointing.

Bowers said that the series was important because there was still a chance for the team to clinch the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. He explained that a number one seed would guarantee home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which is a big deal. Cooley talked about how the series was more important because it was the last one at home this season.

“We never want to lose a game on our home field. It’s such a benefit for us to play at home,” Cooley said.

Susquehanna improved to 24-11 and 15-3 in conference play, while Scranton dropped to 15-17 and 9-9 in conference play.

Susquehanna currently sits at the top of the Landmark Conference and will play an important three game series starting on Saturday, April 30 against second place Elizabethtown that will decide the regular season Landmark Conference champion.