Grover waddles off against the Penguins


The Colonials celebrate Charlotte Grover’s walk-off in game two of the doubleheader. Photo Credit: Ally Yovetich

Ethan Morrison

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa.– A crucial four-game series between Robert Morris (22-14, 17-11 Horizon) and Youngstown State (29-10, 22-5) started with a split with YSU winning game one and RMU taking game two. Two of the Horizon League’s top teams battled throughout both games and earned a split of the doubleheader when the action wrapped up Friday evening.

Head coach Jexx Varner pointed out some key fixes for the team going forward but commended the team’s effort.

“We need to get better on defense to lock things down when we have these leads, but we’ve said it all year… resiliency and the offense just keeps chugging away. They keep finding a way [to win] and I am very proud of them,” said RMU head coach Jexx Varner.

GAME 1: Penguins 3, Colonials 0

WP: Elle Buffenbarger (14-3) 7 IP 2 H 5 BB 12 K 0 ER

LP: Madison Riggle (4-6) 7 IP 5 H 3 R 2 ER 2 HR 5 K


Madison Riggle started in the circle for the Colonials and was opposed by Elle Buffenbarger in game one of the doubleheader.

Working the count was the name of the game today for the Colonials, as it seemed every batter was working deep into counts and making Buffenbarger work on the mound. The game remained scoreless after three innings.

Youngstown State got on the board first in the top of the fourth inning as Jillian Jakse homered to left-center to put the Penguins up by a run. One batter later, Nikki Saibene added to the Penguins lead with a solo shot of her own.

After the Colonials threatened Youngstown State in the third inning, the bats fell silent and could not get anything going on the offensive side of the ball.

Youngstown State’s offense also struggled after their two-run fourth inning as Madison Riggle settled in after giving up two longballs earlier in the game.

The bats slowly came back to life for the Penguins in the top of the seventh as pinch-hitter Kenedy Vrable tacked on an insurance run as she grounded into a fielder’s choice.

RMU went down quietly in the bottom half of the seventh inning, providing no answer to Elle Buffenbarger’s impressive pitching performance.

GAME 2: Colonials 6, Penguins 5 F/8

WP: Jane Garver (2-1) 0.2 IP 1 H 1 K 0 ER

LP: Maddi Lusk (11-3) 7.2 IP 8 H 5 K 6 R 4 ER 5 BB


Dana Vatakis was in the circle for the Colonials while Maddi Lusk was in the circle for Youngstown State for the second matchup. Vatakis started her day strong striking out two in the first frame.

After a solid first frame for Maddi Lusk, she began to struggle in her second inning walking the first two batters she faced. Madison Riggle then reached base on an error by third baseman Nikki Saibene which allowed Erika Bell to score.

Catalina Saxen followed it up with a single that just got past the outstretched glove of Tatum Christy to put RMU up two in the early goings.

With just one out, Robert Morris was in business as the bases were loaded with already two runs across in the inning. Unlike the first game where RMU stranded the bases loaded, they cashed in with Catalina Saxen coming across to score, but that was all the Colonials could muster as Brittney Seibert was thrown out at the plate.

It took YSU three innings, but they finally got to Vatakis as both Maddi Lusk and Jillian Jakse, picked up a pair of singles. The single from Jakse allowed Lusk to score.

Avery Schumacher continued the rally by splitting the gap in left-center to force Lusk to score all the way from first to bring the game to within one run. Sarah Badar then came in to run for Schumacher which paid big dividends as she stole third with one out in the inning and then scored on a fielder’s choice to tie the game.

Madison Riggle broke the tie game with a solo shot to left-center in the bottom of the sixth to give the Colonials a one-run lead.

When Vatakis marched back out to the circle in the seventh, she got into trouble as Nikki Saibene doubled into right-center. Avery Winchell then committed an error at third base which allowed the runner to move up a bag. Hailey Niederkohr, the designated hitter, for YSU grounded the ball to third and Sydney Payne ran home to tie the game.

With just one out, Youngstown State was threatening once again with runners at second and third. But Brittney Seibert kept the game tied with an outfield assist as she threw out Grace Cea at home.

With runners at the corners with one out, Varner put in Jane Garver to try to get out of the inning, but a single down the right-field line broke the tie in extras to give the Penguins their first lead of the game.

When the bottom of the eighth rolled around, Robert Morris took no time to try to tie the game as Riggle stayed hot poking a single up the middle. After Lusk and the Penguin defense recorded an out, Miller drew a walk.

With the game on the line with two outs, Charlotte Grover blooped a single into right field which scored two runs to walk it off.

Both teams square off again looking to take the series tomorrow afternoon, and first pitch is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.