Coach Rob Cooper’s Nittany Lions didn’t get off to the start that they envisioned this weekend as they were swept by No. 1 TCU down in Forth Worth, TX. A combination of inconsistent pitching and defense combined with the inability to get the bats going forced the Lions back to Happy Valley without a win to start the season.
How It Happened
Perhaps their best chance to take down the Horned Frogs came Friday night, but the Penn State pitchers had a tough time finding the strike zone. The Nittany Lions pitching staff accounted for six walks, one hit batter, and one wild pitch. Junior right-hander Sal Biasi was inconsistent to say the least. He lasted just 3 2/3 innings allowing just one hit while striking out seven to go along with four walks and one wild pitch.
A team as elite as TCU took advantage as it turned its only two hits of the night into six runs, which proved to be too much for the Nittany Lions offense to overcome. Penn State was able to scratch across three runs in the top of the seventh, but it wasn’t enough as it fell 6-3.
Penn State couldn’t bounce back the following day in a 12-1 thumping from the Horned Frogs. The Nittany Lions gave starting pitcher Taylor Lehman an early 1-0 lead entering the bottom of the first, but the junior failed to keep Penn State on top. The lefty lasted just 1 1/3 innings as he surrendered three runs on five hits.
Junior Nick Distasio came on in relief of Lehman as TCU’s offense was clicking on all cylinders. Over the next three innings Jim Schlossnagle’s club tallied nine runs to easily cruise by the Nittany Lions to improve to 2-0 on the young season.
“For a good part of the game I thought we weren’t aggressive,” Cooper said. “For [Friday] we played the game with a good competitive spirit, [Saturday] we needed to do a much better job.”
The young Nittany Lions returned Sunday in hopes of salvaging one game from their season opening series, but still fell short as they were defeated 9-3. A two run home-run by Willie Burger in the top of the first inning gave Cooper’s squad some hope as it carried that lead into the bottom of the second.
That’s when TCU’s bats came to life. Over the next four innings, Penn State pitchers Justin Hagenman and Dakota Forsyth failed to quiet the Horned Frogs bats as they compiled seven hits for eight runs. A demoralized Nittany Lions team was only able to score one more run for the remainder of the game with Willie Burger tallying his second homer of the season on a solo shot in the top of the eighth.
Penn State will head to Cary, NC next weekend for a four-game series with Xavier.