Baseball Drops Two in Season Opener at Eastern Mennonite

Baseball Drops Two in Season Opener at Eastern Mennonite

HARRISONBURG, Va. – Juniata opened up its 2017 season down at Eastern Mennonite University on Saturday, Feb. 18. The Eagles dropped both games against the Royals, but showed strengths at the plate in game two. Chris Schreder and Devin Carper each recorded four hits on the day, three in game two.

GAME ONE, 15-1

Heading into the bottom of the first scoreless, RHP Jesse Beeler (Greencastle, Pa./Greencastle-Antrim) started on the hill for the Eagles. EMU was able to take an early three-run lead in the first and tack on one more in the second on five hits, and one walk.

In the top of the third, Caleb Pepperday (Phillipsburg, Pa./Phillipsburg-Osceola) came out to the mound in relief for Beeler. Pepperday forced a pop-up to Drew Harshbarger (Mount Union, Pa./Mount Union) in left field to record an out on his first batter faced. He then loaded the bases and let up a run with four straight walks, starting an eight-run inning for the Royals.

J.D. Weyant (New Paris, Pa./Chestnut Ridge) relieved Pepperday and eventually got the two groundouts the Eagles needed to end the inning. 

Schreder's one-out single up the middle in the top of the fourth was Juniata's first hit of the game. In the same inning, Devin McLaughlin (Monmouth Beach, N.J./Shore Regional) recorded his first collegiate hit, a two-out base hit to third. With two outs and two on, a fly out ended the inning and stranded two.

Weyant returned to the mound for the bottom of the fourth and forced three outs on five batters faced, leaving the Royals scoreless.

Hunter Price (Huntingdon, Pa./Huntngdon Area) ripped a one-out double to left field in the fifth. Devyn Carper (Altoona, Pa./Altoona Area) then knocked in Price with a two-out base hit to left for the Eagles' first run of the game. Isaac Kline (Everett, Pa./Bedford) followed Carper with a single through the left side, but a fly out ended the inning before they were able to tack on any more.

The Eagles' bats stayed quiet for the rest of the first game, while EMU was able to knock three more runs in.

Juniata suffered a 15-1 loss in the seven-inning first game.

GAME TWO, 13-6

Juniata came out swinging in game two of the doubleheader, scoring its first run in the top of the first. After a leadoff strikeout, Schreder ripped a double down the left field line. Josh Keszczyk (Boyertown, Pa./Boyertown Area) followed with a base hit to left, advancing Schreder to third. McLaughlin then marked his first career RBI with a sacrifice fly. Unable to tack on another run, the Eagles ended the first inning with a 1-0 lead.

Kline started game two for JC. The righty let up a single on his first batter of the season and, with a stolen base, fly out and error, the Royals' leadoff tied the game at one. Kline then forced a pop up to Carper in left for the second out. For the final out, Keszczyk threw down to second to catch the EMU runner in a rundown, ending with Shane Buss (Warrenton, Va./Highland) laying down the tag.

After a scoreless top of the second for Juniata, Kline and the Eagles defense stranded two Royals on base with a groundout, strikeout and fly out to keep them from crossing the plate.

Both teams were held off until the bottom of the fourth when EMU tacked on three runs, starting with a two-out, two-run homer. A double and a single knocked in one more run for the Royals. Kline stranded a runner with a punch out for the third out of the inning. 

Down 5-1 at the top of fifth, Schreder hit an opposite-field single and rounded the bases with two steals. Kevin Starner (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) connected for a hit up the middle to bring in Starner and cut EMU's lead in half. Austin Suders (Marion, Pa./Chambersburg Area) and Carper each drew a walk. The bases were juiced for Matt Innella (Commack, N.Y./Commack), but he flied out to centerfield to strand the runners.

Harshbarger made his first career appearance on the mound in relief for Kline. The freshman let up three runs in the inning on five hits and one error. For the final two outs with the bases loaded, Harshbarger struck out a Royal looking and fielded a grounder for the out.

The Eagles trailing 8-2 at the top of sixth, Buss doubled to left center and later advanced to third on a wild pitch. Cameron Livingston (Blairsville, Pa./Blairsville) and Schreder were retired at the plate. With two down, Keszczyk drew a walk to put Eagles on first and third. McLaughlin doubled to left center to clear the bases and make the score 8-4.

The Royals tacked on five more runs, two in the sixth, two in the seventh and one in the eighth. With the home team ahead 13-4, Juniata did not let up, scoring two more in its final ups. Starner drew a walk to start the top of the ninth and moved to second on a passed ball. Adam Kipp (Mt. Wolf, Pa./Northeastern) grounded out to the pitcher to record the first out, but not before Starner advanced to third. Carper knocked in his first run of the game with a base hit, scoring Starner from third. Carper moved to second on a throwing error by the EMU shortstop. With Carper in scoring position, Jerry Hobbs (Scranton, Pa./Old Forge) singled to left center and scored JC's sixth run of the day.

A 4-6-3 double play ended the game with the final score EMU 13, Juniata 6.

Juniata will be back in Virginia on Saturday, Feb. 25 and Sunday, Feb. 26 to face Pitt.-Bradford and Bridgewater.