AUBURNDALE, Fl. – In New Kensington's first matchups of the season, men's baseball went 1-1 with Emerson (MA). New Kensington was unable to get a win in the first game, 15-4, but snatched the victory the next game, 7-6, thanks to a grand slam by sophomore Justin Lindeman (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional)
In the first game, Emerson was first to bat and scored themselves a run early in the first inning. However, New Kensington answered back in the botton of the inning. Freshman Christopher Rendulic (Port Vue, Pa./South Allegheny) singled to center field, stole second, and eventually scored on a wild pitch. Emerson came back strong in the top of the second with four runs. New Kensington couldn't get any hits in the inning and was down 5-1.
In the bottom of the third, New Kensington started scoring again. Senior Vinny Ribar (Apollo, Pa./Kiski Area) reached first on an error and made Emerson pay by stealing second and third. Rendulic grounded out to ss, allowing Ribar to score. Emerson was able to get five runs during the fourth with two hits, but New Kensington couldn't match that. The score then read 13-2 in favor of Emerson.
New Kensington outscored Emerson in the sixth, but only by one. Freshman Reise Matson (Kittanning, Pa./Armstrong) doubled to left center and scored on a triple by Lindeman. Tyler Elliot (Jeannette, Pa./Jeannette) doubled and sent Lindeman home for a score. Heading into the seventh inning, New Kensington was down 14-4.
Matson finished 2-for-2 with two walks. Elliot pitched three and two-thirds innings, allowing four hits and three runs. Along the way, he struck out four. Noah Oddis (Lower Burrell, Pa./Burrell), who pitched three innings, struck out five.
In the nightcap, Emerson was up 6-0 going into the fifth inning. With Emerson getting two quick outs, the inning didn't look good for the Lions. That all changed when Sebastien Nelson (Ardmore, Okla./Ardmore) got on base with a single. A single off the bat of Darius Bennis (Leechburgh, Pa./Leechburg) and a walk from Ribar loaded the bases. Nelson scored off of a Rendulic single to center field and Bennis came home after Matson drew a walk. It was then that Lindeman lofted his grand slam and first career home run over the right field fence to tie the game 6-6.
New Kensington made two-out magic happen in the top of the seventh. The Lions managed to load the bases and this time all it took was a base hit from Oddis to drive in the winning run.
Josh Stuckley (Natrona Heights, Pa.) pitched four innings and had five strikeouts. Rednulic picked up the win, going three innings and striking out three.
New Kensington will take on Concordia College (MN) at Chain of Lakes Park on Wednesday, Mar. 6 at 9:00 a.m.
Written by Janet Surma