Lions Rally Past Clark for 8-7 Win

Photo: Sophomore Tyler Manger pitches during Wednesday night's win over Clark at Lake Myrtle Park.
Photo: Sophomore Tyler Manger pitches during Wednesday night's win over Clark at Lake Myrtle Park.

AUBURNDALE, Fla. – Penn State Altoona baseball overcame a 6-1 deficit on Wednesday evening, coming back to defeat Clark University 8-7 at Lake Myrtle Park in the RussMatt Central Florida Invitational.

Wednesday's game was the continuation of Tuesday's contest, which was halted after one-and-a-half innings due to rain.

Penn State Altoona (2-5) trailed 6-1 after five innings, but the Lions capitalized on opportunities to plate seven runs over the next four innings, surging past Clark (1-3) to grab the victory.

"Tonight was a huge win for our team. We had a few tough calls go against us, and rather than worrying about the uncontrollable things – like we have early in the trip – we stuck together as a team to score seven runs in the last four innings to knock off a Clark squad who went 26-13 last season," said Penn State Altoona head coach RJ Barnard. "Tonight was a total team effort, and a tip of the cap to Tyler Manger, who was phenomenal out of the pen, allowing no earned runs in four innings of work."

Tyler Manger (Lindenhurst, NY/Lindenhurst) tossed four innings of relief to pick up his first win of the season, allowing just three hits, no earned runs, and no walks. He also struck out four batters.

Aaron Sharp (Freeburg, PA/Midd-West) started on the mound and took a no decision. He pitched five innings and allowed six hits, four walks, and two earned runs while striking out six batters.

At the plate, the Lions were led by Austin Anderson (Macungie, PA/Emmaus), who went 2-for-4 with one run batted in, one run scored, and one walk. Dylan Bates (Towanda, PA/Towanda), Clayton Hain (Schaefferstown, PA/Eastern Lebanon County), and James Mays (Dyer, IN/Lake Central) each finished 1-for-3 with an RBI.

The game started Tuesday with Clark grabbing a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning on Nick Jordan's sacrifice fly to right. Penn State Altoona tied the game in the top of the second inning when Anderson drew a walk and later came around to score on Mays' RBI single to right.

After the third out of the top of the second inning, the teams were called off the field and the game was suspended.

Play resumed Wednesday evening, with Clark reclaiming the lead in the bottom of the third. Jordan hit another sac fly to put the Cougars back in front, and Kai Herko's RBI single to left-center made it 3-1. Clark added a run in the fourth on Andrew Thibault's run-scoring double down the left field line, then increased its lead to 6-1 in the fifth when Jordan and Herko each scored on wild pitches.

But Penn State Altoona began to chip away at its deficit over the next three innings. Hain scored on a double play in the sixth to make it 6-2, and a sac fly from Bates and RBI single by Anderson cut Clark's advantage to 6-4 in the seventh. The Lions tied the game in the eighth when Hunter Breon (Boiling Springs, PA/Boiling Springs) scored on a balk and Chase Clouser (Dublin, OH/Dublin Jerome) scored when Hain was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

The Lions completed their comeback in the top of the ninth inning. Richard Carey (Milton, DE/Cape Henlopen) led off the frame with a walk, then moved to second when an errant throw on Jordan McCall's (Hollidaysburg, PA/Hollidaysburg) sacrifice bunt allowed both runners to be safe. In the next at bat, Breon put down a sac bunt that led to another Clark throwing error, which sent both Carey and McCall home to give Penn State Altoona an 8-6 lead.

The Lions hung on to clinch the win in the bottom of the ninth. Collin Porter led off the inning and reached on an error, and he later scored on a two-out throwing error to cut Penn State Altoona's lead to 8-7. But a strikeout ended the game for the Lions.

Penn State Altoona baseball continues its week in the RussMatt Invitational tomorrow, Thursday, March 7, when it will face Anna Maria College in a doubleheader of seven-inning games. Game one is scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m. at Osceola Heritage Park in Kissimmee.