Slow starts, errors by Robert Morris lead to doubleheader sweep by Vikings


Julia Ehrman slides into third base against Cleveland State. Photo credit: Tyler Gallo

Michael Deemer

MOON TOWNSHIP– Fresh off an unscheduled trip to Oakland to take on Pitt on Tuesday, ending in a 7-2 loss, Robert Morris was back at the North Athletic Complex to face the Vikings of Cleveland State in a doubleheader Saturday.

GAME 1: Vikings 8, Colonials 6 F/8

W: Holzopfel (7-9) CG, 4 ER, 8 SO, 12 H, 3 BB

L: Vatakis (4-4) 7.2 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 9 SO, 7 H, BB

Dana Vatakis, reigning Horizon League Pitcher of the Week, was in the circle in game one for the Colonials.

The Vikings did not wait to get on the scoreboard. Following a double by Aly Packish, Becky Hurosky went deep for a two-run homer in the first.

In the next inning, Sydney Bajusz hit another home run for the Cleveland State, a solo shot, to make it 3-0.

In the home half of the second, Meadow Sacadura hit one to the wall for a double. A beautiful throw by center fielder Mackenzie Tucker set up the relay to tag out Jess Matheny at the plate in hopes of scoring from first to preserve Mellisa Holzopfel’s shutout.

Later in that inning, two walks gave lead-off hitter Alaina Koutsogiani a bases-loaded opportunity. She later struck out on three pitches.

In the third, the Colonials capitalized on their opportunities. Charlotte Grover sent one over the fence for a two-run shot to cut the deficit to one.

Quiet bats began to take notice in the next two innings. Only two singles combined for both teams in the fourth and fifth innings.

That would change until the bottom of the sixth. Three straight singles by Grover, Matheny and Sacadura opened the innings with the bases loaded with no outs.

Faith Miller drove in a run on a sacrifice fly, sending Grover home to knot the game at three.

In the seventh, Erika Bell singled and Taylor Rhinehart walked, but nothing led to any runs, forcing game one into extra innings.

After being blanked since the second inning, Cleveland State got back on the scoresheet after the Colonials had a comedy of errors in one play. After a sacrifice bunt attempt, third baseman Alaina Koutsogiani threw the ball to the first baseman. Jess Matheny picked it up and threw the ball wide of Meadow Sacadura’s reach, causing Kaelin Ettinger to round third and score to give the Vikings the lead.

The next batter, Jenna Deang, had an RBI single to make it a two-run lead.

Mackenzie Tucker had another RBI single for the Vikings, making it 6-3.

The Colonials would not go down without a fight. Meadow Sacadura wasted no time swinging at the first pitch of the bottom half, hitting it to the base of the right-field wall for a double. Two pitches later, Brittany Seibert hit an RBI single to send in pinch-runner Avery Winchell.

However, it was too little too late. Cleveland State won the first game of two, 6-4.

GAME 2: Vikings 6, Colonials 2

W: Jenna Watts (2-2) 2.0 IP, 2 H, SO

L: Rachael Rhinehart (6-3) 4.2 IP, 6 R, 3 ER, 8 SO, 8 H, BB

SV: Torrie Jenkins (1)

Game two began in Cleveland State’s favor again.

Rachael Rhinehart gave up two hits and a walk in the first inning, including an RBI single by Sydney Bajusz that got the Vikings on the scoresheet in the first inning.

After Charlotte Grover walked on consecutive pitches and Jess Matheny’s single with one out, the Colonials failed to send them home.

Rachael Rhinehart was in the circle for the second game of Saturday. She had six straight strikeouts early in the contest. However, after her sixth strikeout after a dropped third strike, Meadow Sacadura’s throw went out of first baseman Brittany Seibert’s reach, which would have been the third out.

Rhinehart had eight strikeouts in less than five innings pitched before being replaced by her sister Taylor.

After another error and a single, the Vikings loaded the bases. Courtney Fernette came up to the plate and cleared the bases with a three-RBI triple to extend the Viking lead.

The unforced errors continued to pile on for the Colonials in the fourth, especially on the basepaths. After Sacadura hit the ball, Jess Matheny was running to second. After being called safe, she overran the bag and was easily tagged by Vikings Sophie Spellman.

“We made our mistakes today. Things we should not have done today,” head coach Jexx Varner said postgame. “Overrunning bases, getting picked off, not stepping and throwing, letting the ball go through three players.”

Two more runs came on the board for the Vikings, including a solo shot by Becky Hurosky.

In the sixth, the Colonials got the bases loaded. Faith Miller smacked home two runs after going under the legs of shortstop Sophie Spellman. However, Bailee Bertani was picked off at third, ending the much-needed rally.

Despite having runners on the corners, the Colonials could not send anyone home in the seventh and final inning.

Having their first Horizon League games at home, the conference schedule is still young. Coach Varner says they have many opportunities to get back to their winning ways.

“Those mistakes are our problem and some of these problems,” he said. “Those mistakes we have to recognize and have to fix. If we find our edge and have a response to that. We’re capable of doing that, but you can’t play like this no matter how much talent you have.”

The Colonials, despite dropping both games Saturday afternoon, will face the Vikings Sunday at noon at the North Athletic Complex.