The IUP baseball team has a five-game series.
Why is this essential? Because it hasn’t been for almost ten years.
After completing four games over the weekend in Pete Johnstown on Saturday, the IUP is leading its longest winning streak since hosting seven in a row from 10 to 20 April 2013. Nine years after the end of this series, the Crimson Hawks will seek to match that today when they welcome Cutztown to the PSAC doubleheaders at Daguerrefield Field.
With less than three weeks left before the regular season, the IUP has 19-15 and is ranked third at PSAC West with a record in the 10-6 division. That’s far from where the “Raspberry Hawks” were last season when they finished with a score of 2-35.
“Last year was just tough because people asked you,‘ Hey, did you win? ’ and every time the answer is no, ”said junior infiltrator Harrison Pontoli, who played in all but one of the 37 Crimson Hawks games last season. “Everything is completely different this year. We have a chance to go deeper into the playoffs and make our way, so compared to last year it’s just great. “
Not only are the Crimson Hawks in the thick of the playoffs, they are also lagging behind Mercihurst, who finished first (11-5), in the race for the division title, with 12 games left in the division. IUP and Mercyhurst will meet in a series of four home and away games this weekend. The regular season is scheduled to end on May 7.
“It was very difficult, especially for me,” said senior infield Marcus Sister about the 2021 season. “My roommates, they’re not on the baseball team. So I came home after the doubleheader, and they said, “Hey, did you win?” And I say, “No.”
“And it was every weekend I heard that. It became annoying. But this year we are constantly talking about the record. It’s behind us, and something special is happening to us now. “
The sister played a key role in Pete Johnstone’s four-game IUP stripping, and on Tuesday he was named PSAC West Athlete of the Week. He started the series with a 5-on-5 win with four doubles, a home run and five RBIs, winning 14-12 in Friday’s doubleheader’s first game. He finished the 10-on-16 series with nine RBIs.
As a team, the Crimson Hawks reached 0.439 in the series and scored 47 races to raise their team’s average by 18 points. They entered Friday’s double header with a team average of 0.290, which jumped to 0.308 by the time they left Johnstown on Saturday.
“It’s amazing when everything works together – bats, pitchers, everyone puts up the field perfectly,” Pontoli said. “I mean, you can’t win. Everyone is just doing their job, and it’s just great. “
The IUP’s return to relevance began in a box reflected.
After finishing last in the PSAC last season with 17 teams in almost every major offensive category – scoring points, midfield, percentage at base and percentage of breakthroughs – the “Raspberry Hawks” have achieved marked improvement this year.
They sit in the middle of the pack in each category and this has led to victories. Six of the nine regulars in the lineup beat 0.300 or better, leading an average of .386 Austin Mueller (39 out of 101).
That’s not to say the IUP filing hasn’t pulled its weight this season. Jimmy Tully, who started and won Saturday’s double-header game against Pete Johnstone, a 6-2 win, has improved to 6-0 in eight starts this season.
He heads the pitching staff, which has improved significantly under first-year coach Steve Klein, a former major league unloader and longtime low-league pitching coach. The top three “Raspberry Hawks” are 12-7 out of 23 starts.
The IUP hasn’t been in the PSAC playoffs since 2017 – it was the last time the Crimson Hawks won 20 or more games – and the Raspberry Hawks haven’t had a winning season since 2015. They hope to interrupt all these laudable series of the season.
“This team is special,” Sister said. “We have excellent leadership in this team and we know that if we go down, we have a chance to come back. We have pitchers who make innings to get behind us so we can come in and hit.
“And we worked great, hitting the ball hard, and if we continue to do that, it will be a great run for us.”