Penn State Baseball Snaps 11-Game Skid, Smacks Charleston Southern 18-6
Heading into Sunday, Penn State baseball had lost its last 11 games dating back to last season. Going up against a solid Charleston Southern team, it looked like it would be 12 straight. But Aaron Novak and the Nittany Lions (1-8) fought hard to prevent a third-straight sweep to begin the season, beating the Buccaneers 18-6.
Novak once again led the Nittany Lions at the plate, hitting two home-runs while tying the single-game school record with eight RBIs. The last Nittany Lion to rack up eight RBIs in a game was Ed Washwell vs. Cornell on May 12, 1984.
How It Happened
The first two games of the series didn’t go Penn State’s way as they fell 2-0 and 7-5. The first game was a pitchers’ duel, as the starting pitchers for both teams went seven innings. Junior LHP Nick Hedge got the start for the Nittany Lions and had an impressive showing (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 Ks, 1 BB) while allowing the only two runs in the first inning. The Penn State offense tallied eight hits but couldn’t string together any runs, recording only one extra-base hit while stranding 11 batters.
The second game of the series was another two-run loss for the Nittany Lions as Charleston Southern got two runs in the last inning to outlast Penn State 7-5. This time Penn State mustered some offense as they came back from a three-run deficit and tied the game twice in seven innings. Freshman LHP Taylor Lehman did not have a great outing (3.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 4 Ks, 3 BB) while reliever Jack Anderson (2.1 IP, 1 H, 2 ER, 2 Ks, 1 BB) allowed the last two runs in the eighth and received the loss. Senior OF Aaron Novak led the team at the plate, going 2-for-4 while scoring two runs.
The final game of the series helped boost the spirits of Penn State baseball fans everywhere as the squad crushed Charleston Southern, 18-6. Coach Rob Cooper’s team showed that it can hit in the clutch as 13 of the 18 hits for Penn State came with two outs. Charleston Southern didn’t help themselves either, recording 11 walks and four errors. Freshman RHP Nick Distasio got the start (3.1 IP, 7 H, 5 runs, 3 ER, 5 Ks, 1 BB) while freshman reliever Marco Boricich (4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 Ks, 2 BB) ended up with the first win of the season (and his career) for the Nittany Lions.
The game was tied at five entering the sixth innning when Penn State scored six runs in the sixth, three in the seventh, and four in the ninth to earn a commanding win. Aaron Novak put on a show in his first game in the clean-up spot, going 4-for-5 with two home runs — a two-run homer run in the seventh and a three-run homer in the ninth — to finish with a record-setting eight RBIs. But it wasn’t just Novak that got the job done at the plate. Every starter tallied at least one hit for Penn State.
Tweet of the Game
It was truly a breakout performance for the senior outfielder, who tallied more RBIs in a single game than in his previous 34.
Aaron Novak entered today’s game with 6 RBIs this year and last year combined.
— Penn State Baseball (@PennStateBASE) March 8, 2015
Penn State can hit (when it wants to). An 18-run blowout isn’t something that just happens by chance — it takes skill. Penn State can replicate this type of offense again, and it starts with Aaron Novak. Novak shined in this series, going 8-for-12 with six runs, two home runs, one walk, and a lone strikeout. He really should bat in the clean-up spot more often. Relief pitching was also a bright spot during this series, but will need to continue to improve.
Penn State will stay in South Carolina for spring break to face off against No. 10 South Carolina on Tuesday and Wednesday. Both games will be at 6 p.m. before finishing the road-trip in Lynchburg, Virginia, to play Western Carolina and Liberty.
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