The Penn State baseball team got back on track this weekend after splitting a four game set with Xavier down in North Carolina. After earning their first win on Friday, the Nittany Lions lost two in a double-header on Saturday before emerging victorious Sunday afternoon.
How it happened
On Friday night the Penn State bats finally woke up and were able to push across seven runs to come away with a 7-5 win. Sophomore Jordan Bowersox and Connor Klemann were able to spark Penn State’s offense by going a combined 4-9 on the night while driving in three of the team’s seven runs. Sal Biasi toed the rubber in the series opener for the Nittany Lions and put together a pedestrian outing.
The junior gave up three runs over five innings while striking out five batters before handing it over to Dakota Forsyth. Forsyth was able to give coach Cooper three and 1/3 innings to a pitching staff that needed a boost. Coach Cooper praised Biasi’s competitiveness after the game but added he needs to lower his pitch count so he can get deeper into games.
Though he gave up two runs, Biasi’s stuff was good enough to strike out six of the 12 batters he faced. Nick Disatsio relieved Forsyth in the top of the ninth after Xavier put men on second and third with one out. The 5-foot-11 right hander was able to get the Nittany Lions out of the jam to give Biasi and the Nittany Lions their first win of the season.
They were back in action the following morning for a double-header but Xavier was able to win the day with scores of 10-4 and 7-5. In game one of the two game tilt, Taylor Lehman got the nod only to continue his early season struggles. Lehman lasted just four and 1/3 innings giving up five runs (three earned) and struggled to find the strike zone — producing five walks. Any hope of stopping the bleeding quickly faded when Cole Bartels came on in relief of Lehman and lasted just one and 1/3 innings after giving up two more runs. Jordan Bowersox and Braxton Giavedoni served as the only bright spot in game one as they each went 3-4.
Penn State got out to an early 1-0 lead in game two but a four-run top of the third for Xavier helped the Musketeers jump ahead by three. The Nittany Lion bats responded in the bottom half of the inning by putting up a four spot of their own. Justin Hagenmen battled, though he didn’t have his best stuff. He surrendered five earned runs and six hits over five innings while striking out seven. The game was tied up at five until Xavier put up another two runs in the top of the sixth inning to seal a 7-5 victory.
Coach Cooper was able to get his young team to bounce back on Sunday afternoon by winning the series finale 6-1. It was a community effort from the Nittany Lions pitching staff on Sunday, but Myles Gayman and Nick Distasio each gave Penn State three plus innings to hold the Xavier bats to just one run.
The right-handers combined for seven strikeouts over seven hitting and only allowing one run. Penn State was down 1-0 entering the bottom of the eighth when the offense erupted for a six-run inning. An RBI single to centerfield from Mason Nadeau got the scoring started before Willie Burger came up to bat with the bases loaded where he then punched a single between second and third base that scored two runs which proved to be the deciding factor. A double from Jordan Bowersox later in the inning added some insurance for Penn State before Schuyler Bates stepped on the mound to lock down Penn State’s second win of the year.
Following the win this afternoon Cooper was pleased with the outcome but acknowledged the fact they can still improve, “We made some strides, but we need to get a lot better,” Cooper said. “Today was a great example.”
Sophomore outfielder Jordan Bowersox earns MVP honors after going 10-18 (.555 average) with three RBIs during the four game series.
After notching their first two wins of the season this weekend the Nittany Lions will have some momentum when they get back on the field next Saturday against the University of the Pacific.