Knights open their home season with a bang, run win streak to five

By Andrew Hunter

Knightly News Sports Reporter

The Central Penn College Knights started off their home slate on a high note, as they were victorious in both games of a doubleheader against Penn State Hazleton on a chilly afternoon at FNB Field in Harrisburg.

Game 1

Before the game, the Knights held a heart-felt ceremony honoring their fallen teammate Angel Mercado-Ocasio. After the first pitch of the game, which the Knights played with a hat and glove at the second base position in honor of Mercado-Ocasio, the Knights gave a 25 second time of silence.

In the early going, both teams flashed stellar pitching. For the Knights, sophomore Cameron Smiley took the mound and did not disappoint. Smiley gave a stellar performance, giving up only one hit and striking out four in four innings. For Penn State Hazleton, Zach Brister started the game and did not allow a run in two innings, and Jake Bobish pitched three innings, allowing only one run while striking out seven.

Both teams played stellar defensive games, with only one error between them. The Knights were led by senior third baseman Zach Boyer, who made several stellar plays that prevented base hits for Hazelton. Another impressive player on defense was freshman shortstop Brian Lowen, who is filling pretty big shoes by replacing the injured Nathan Wise, a 2023 USCAA first-team All-American last year and Knightly News Rookie of the Year.

While the bats were slow in the game’s first four innings, the action kicked into high gear in the fifth inning. In the top of the inning, Penn State Hazleton was able to cash in on some baserunners, allowing Maximus Cuevas to drive in a run with a sacrifice fly. But relief pitcher Colten Zerby, who pitched well in relief, was able to get out of the inning otherwise unscathed.

The Knights managed to get on the board in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Lowen singled in Gabe Kaufman to tie the game, 1-1.

After a quick inning for Zerby, the Knights came alive in the bottom of the sixth inning, with RBI base hits from Boyer and Kaufman that allowed the team to plate three runs in that frame off of pitcher Solomon Grant.

In the top of the seventh inning, Zerby worked around a solo home run from Eric Sonntag to shut down Penn State Hazleton and close the game out with a 4-2 victory for Central Penn.

For the Knights, Boyer was named the Knightly News Player of the Game after going 1-for-3 with two RBIs and a run. Kaufman went 2-for-2 with a walk, a run, and a steal. Zerby picked up the victory in relief for Central Penn.

Game 2

While Game 1 was a relative pitcher’s duel, Game 2 featured the offensive firepower that the Knights are known for, mustering 12 runs and 12 hits in a 12-7 victory.

Dalton Koller took the mound for the Knights, pitching three innings and getting out of some early trouble. While Koller allowed four earned runs, he made pitches when he needed to, including a key strikeout to get the Knights out of a jam.

The Knights got their offense going in the bottom of the second, plating six runs in that frame alone. The offensive explosion was highlighted by RBI doubles from Zachary Haefner, Nic Joseph and Zach Boyer, along with an RBI single by Adam Hoover.

Penn State Hazleton would not go away quietly, though, posting a run in the second, two in the third, and three in the fourth to pull into a 6-6 tie in the top of the fourth inning.

Still, the Knights continued their solid defense to help keep them in the game. Owen Zell had an impressive game at second base, making a variety of both routine and highlight-reel plays at the keystone. Brian Lowden had another solid day at shortstop, showing that the Knights defense is as good as any in the USCAA.

After Colby Criswell tossed a clean inning in the top of the fifth, Jefrandy Montero and Tanner McCoy added RBI hits to grab an 8-6 lead. After allowing a run in the top of the sixth inning, the Knights piled on four more runs in the bottom of the sixth, ultimately giving the Knights a comfortable lead that allowed them to cruise to the 12-7 victory and Opening Day sweep of Penn State Hazleton.

Kaufman was named the Knightly News Player of the Game, going 1-for-2 with two walks and a run in Game 2. He reached base six of seven times across both games of the doubleheader. David Thomas went 2-for-4 with two runs, while Lowen went 2-for-4 with three runs.

After the sweep, the Knights are riding a five-game winning streak and improved to 6-4 on the season. They will travel to Christendom College on Saturday and will return home on March 26 for a home contest against ESAC rival Bucks County Community College.

The Knightly News will livestream all 16 Knights home games this season. The next broadcast will be Monday, March 25 at 1 p.m. against Bucks County Community College. You can find our livestreams at