MANSFIELD - After a successful 5-3 Southern trip, the Mansfield Mountaineer baseball team returned to the Northern Tier and Shaute Field.
After dropping a pair to Kutztown on Saturday, the Mounties fell two more times to the Golden Bears on Sunday afternoon by scores of 3-1 and 7-1.
"We just didn't swing the bats as well as we wanted to," said MU head coach Harry Hillson. "Right now we are just getting our oars in the water. We have a lot of baseball to play so we'll get it going in a little bit."
The Mountaineers wasted no time getting on the board as Seth Tressler stroked a single to right, stole second and sprinted home on an RBI single up the middle by Matt Fisher.
The early Mansfield lead was short-lived as the Golden Bears tied the game with a run in the second before adding a pair in the third for a 3-1 lead.
After all of the game's runs were scored in the first 2 1/3 innings, pitching took over.
Kutztown starter Collin Holmes worked the first 4 2/3 innings to pick up the win. Holmes surrendered the Mounties' only run of the game while allowing all four MU hits. He walked a pair and struck out one.
On the heels of Holmes' departure, Billy Felo came on to retire the final seven MU hitters to preserve the win and pick up the save.
In previous years, the Bears have thrived on a lot of solid power hitters, but this unit is different. With the change of personnel, Chris Blum admits that pitching is going to have to carry them in the early going.
"Any time you can come up to Mansfield and give up a total of two runs in two ball games, those are going to be well-pitched games," Blum said. "All the credit for these two wins has to go to my pitching staff and defense today."
Brett Hauck led the Bears at the plate as the second baseman went 6-for-7 in the two games.
"He is a good one and that is what we are going to need all year from him," said Blum. "We are going to have to get some clutch hitting as well as two-out hitting. Even some of the balls we hit today they made some nice plays on or we would have scored more runs."
While Holmes and Felo were dominating, MU lefty Joe Candelmo was also strong in defeat. Candelmo went the distance to absorb the loss. In his seven innings of work, he allowed all three runs on eight hits, striking out four while not issuing a single walk.
"He (Candelmo) pitched pretty well, but he left a couple of balls up (in the strike zone)," said Hillson. "Again we didn't hit enough to help him out and we made some errors that hurt us."
In the nightcap, Mansfield 's Joey Zuniga and Kutztown's Brandon Shimo matched each other pitch-for-pitch through 3 1/2 scoreless innings until the Mountaineers broke through with an unearned run in the fourth.
Brandon Miller singled to left, moved to second on a successful sacrifice bunt by Joey Andrews, advanced to third on a high chopper to first and scored when Anthony Renz's ground ball to third was misplayed allowing Miller to scoot home with the game's first run.
After playing a solid first four innings, the wheels came off the MU wagon in the fifth when the Golden Bears took advantage of a hit batsman, three Mountie errors, four base hits and several mental mistakes to plate seven runs.
"That stuff is unfortunate," Hillson said. "You hope those things happen for you instead of for them. You just hope the ball bounces the right way, but when you give up a hit here and an error there, that can make a big difference."
With things unraveling for the Mounties, Blum turned his offensive attack to playing some small ball.
"We had to go to a little bit of a small ball game in the second game to score some runs," Blum said. "We started bunting, hitting and running. We just did whatever we had to do to score some runs."