Heartland sweep opening day games
Coming out of the gate against two teams that have been playing for a month proved to be no problem for the Heartland Hawks, taking both games on Saturday in Florence, South Carolina.
In game one the Hawks were facing a Florence-Darlington Technical College squad that not only has been playing since February 2nd, but is a solid, successful NJCAA D1 program. Heartland ace David Stagg was taking no chances that the offence might be rusty or that his fielders wouldn’t be ready. Stagg pitched six solid innings of three-hit ball, striking out eight while walking only three. Ryan Byrne came in to close out the game, facing the minimum in the seventh inning to preserve the shutout.
The Hawks could manage only one run on two hits, but that’s all they needed. Andre Sopena, in the DH slot for this game, got one hit (double) and scored the Hawks’ only run. Louisville transfer and Illinois State commit Mason Snyder got the game’s only RBI, driving in Sopena with a sacrifice fly.
Game two provided a bit more drama, as Heartland overcame five errors, pulling out a 6-5 victory over USC-Lancaster. Aided by 11 walks, the Hawks made the most of their four hits and rode the back of a strong pitching performance by Illinois State transfer Johnny Lieske. Lieske pitched into the sixth inning, striking out nine and walking none, while allowing only one earned run on on four hits.
Shortstop Cody Dykema collected two of the Hawks’ four hits, one being a double, with Andrew McCafferty and Trevor Forde notching one hit each. McCafferty’s one hit was a triple. Andre Sopena had two RBI and three walks.
Heartland resumes play on Sunday afternoon with games against Cecil College and perennial JUCO power Potomac State.