Penn College Baseball Team Set to Roar Into Playoffs
The importance of each game just became more critical for Pennsylvania College of Technology's baseball team. It was announced by the Penn State University Athletic Conference Athletic Directors Council on Tuesday that, due to weather-related postponements and cancellations throughout the month, the rest of the regular season is being suspended and playoffs will commence this weekend. The defending champion Wildcats, 20-9 overall and 15-3 in conference games, host Penn State Wilkes-Barre at 4 p.m. Saturday in a scheduled nine-inning game at Bowman Field. The winner of that game will face the winner of a Saturday playoff between Penn State Scranton and Penn State Hazleton on Tuesday. Although going from the regular season, where his team still had six games remaining on its schedule after eight postponements, into a one-and-done playoff situation is an abrupt about-face, first-year coach Chris Howard said his squad is up for the challenge. "You can't think about the final four, or how we are going to do in the championship game; it's the game we're playing today is the most important game on the schedule," Howard said. "One game at a time is an old cliche, but it's true. You can't let yourself get into the mind-set of looking ahead because that's exactly when you get snipped." Mark Shaffer, a left-handed sophomore from Hanover, will start on the mound Saturday. "He's been doing great. He's been very consistent," Howard said. "His arm feels good, he's been hitting his spots and throwing a lot of strikes and mixing his pitches up." Other starters Saturday will be Brian Johnson (Montoursville) at first base, James Woodring (Waynesboro) at second base, Phil Woodring (Waynesboro) at shortstop, Cody Lytle (Watsontown) at third base, James Craft (York) catching, Levi Bailey (Harrisburg) in left field, Alex Eastman (Meshoppen) in center field and Devon Liquori (Hawley) in right field. Pitchers available for duty are Will Moser (Scranton), Mike McCloskey (Springfield), Justin Trefsger (Ashland), Christian Worth (Williamsport), Dan Preston (Little Meadows) and Doug Sponseller (Hanover). "It is what it is. Unfortunately, you can't control the weather. We're as ready as we can be. We'll be ready Saturday," Howard said. When Penn College played Penn State Wilkes-Barre on April 3, the Wildcats won by scores of 11-2 and 15-0, but Howard still is cautious. "We have to go out and play hard and do the things that we have been doing," he said. "Our pitching has been outstanding. We've only had nine games (during the spring season when the Wildcats went 7-2), but the pitching has been better than I had even hoped. All we have to do is play the way that we're capable of and we'll be all right," Howard added.