|Connor Harding||Kevin Johnson||Ian McIntosh|
SCRANTON - Sophomore Connor Harding (Vestal, N.Y./Vestal) etched his name into The University of Scranton baseball program's record book with two hits to break the program record for most hits in a season (66), as the Royals opened a 4-1 lead in the first inning and never looked back in an 8-3 victory over Keystone on Wednesday night at Volpe Field.
With the win, the Royals moved to 17-20 overall for the year, while Keystone fell to 23-14 with the defeat.
To open the contest, Keystone was able to get a run across in the top of the first to open an early 1-0, but that edge was short lived for the Giants, as the Royals scored four times in the bottom of the first to go up 4-1 after a full inning of play.
In the frame, sophomore Ben Grochowski (Old Forge, Pa./Old Forge) had an RBI single, while junior Kevin Haag (Ossining, N.Y./Ossining/Bridgton Academy (Maine)) scored later in the inning on a wild pitch to give Scranton a 2-1 lead. Then, sophomore Kevin Johnson (Whitehouse Station, N.J./Hunterdon Central) had a big two-RBI single to put Scranton up three.
The three-run lead proved to be enough run support for a myriad of Scranton pitchers, as the Royals used a reliever in each inning of the game to keep the Keystone offense at bay all night. The closest Keystone came to the lead was two-runs (on two separate occasions), as Scranton blew open a 5-3 game in the eighth inning with three runs.
There, senior Ian McIntosh (Newtown, Pa./LaSalle College H.S.) had an RBI on a fielder's choice, the Haag and McIntosh scored on Keystone wild pitches to give the Royals a five-run lead entering the ninth.
In the final frame, Scranton used their ninth pitcher of the game - freshman Ryan Heiser (New Milford, N.J./Saint Joseph Regional) - who made quick work of the Giants to clinch the win for the Royals in their final non-conference regular season game of the year.
Overall, Johnson ended the game going a perfect 4-for-4 with a double two RBI and a walk, while McIntosh was 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored. Harding, meanwhile, collected his historic 66th hit of the season in the fourth inning on an infield single, as he broke the previous record of 65 hits in a season by Chris Stallone in 2009. Harding also scored two runs in the win, as well.
Pitching wise, senior Pat Rohr (Audubon, Pa./Devon Prep) was credited with the win after starting the contest to move his record to 3-0 on the year.
The Royals will now prepare for the 2019 Landmark Conference Championships, which The University of Scranton will host at Volpe Field all weekend. Scranton begins play on Friday as the number four seed, taking on top-seeded Susquehanna. First pitch is scheduled for 3:30 p.m.