Mountain Cats stay even in conference

Bobby Scott, Sports Editor

The Pitt-Johnstown baseball team continues to fight their way through the home stretch of their season against newly acquainted conference opponents.

The Mountain Cats split a doubleheader with California University of Pennsylvania last Tuesday, keeping Pitt-Johnstown’s conference record at a .500.

Junior right-handed pitcher Ryan Bills carried the load most of the way when it came to pitching.

Bills went six innings, struck out four batters and walked two, while giving up only three hits and one earned run.

Fellow junior right-handed pitchers Ryan Socol recorded his fifth save of the season.

The Mountain Cats got on the scoreboard with sophomore centerfielder Ernesto Rizzitano’s two-run double in the top of the fifth inning, which proved to be the game-winning hit.

Game 2 was a different story.

Pitt-Johnstown gave up six runs in the first inning and eight runs in the fifth inning in a 15-6 loss to the Vulcans.

Freshman right-handed pitcher Brantley Rice started the game and lasted two-thirds of an inning as he gave up seven hits and six earned runs to put the Mountain Cats in a hole after the first inning, trailing 6-1.

The team responded the next inning.

They were able to string together a single and two doubles that resulted in three runs to cut California’s lead to two.

The Mountain Cats were able to remain within three runs of the Vulcans until the bottom of the fifth when sophomore left-handed pitcher Logan Fluke gave five earned runs on five hits after California was able to hit around on him.

California won 16-5.

“We competed as hard as we could both games, but, sometimes, things do not always go the way you want in baseball,” Bills said.

“As long as we learn from it and make adjustments, we will grow as a team.”

Bills is 1-1 so far this season with a 4.29 earned run average and 10 strikeouts in 21 innings pitched.

“Ryan Bills kept us in (game one) the whole time,” senior right-handed pitcher John Fees said.

“Our hitters had some clutch hits to get two runs across the plate keeping the morale up, which I think played a big role.”

Fees said the team started to lose focus once things got tough.

“In the bottom of the first (of game two), California had a couple big hits scoring runs, kind of put us in a big hole,” Fees said.

“Our pitchers had rough innings scattering numerous hits from not working ahead in the counts.”

Senior catcher Kyle Morrow hit a home run in game two, a half-inning before California scored eight runs.

Morrow has a batting average of .337, 11 runs batted in and leads the team in home runs with two in 25 games played.

“They hit the ball well and we did, too, but they just had two big innings that we could not come back from,” Morrow said.

The Mountain Cats will take on Indiana University of Pennsylvania Friday in a home doubleheader at Point Stadium in Johnstown.