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Boylston’s Career Night Spoiled as Penn State Falls to No. 7 South Carolina, 3-0

Facing one of the nation’s premier programs, the fledgling Nittany Lions appeared outmatched from the very beginning. That is, until Geoff Boylston took the mound.

In a classic pitchers’ duel, Boylston surrendered just three runs (two earned) in a career-best six innings, allowing just five hits and one walk while striking out a career-high seven batters. Not to be outdone, South Carolina’s Josh Reagan took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, tossing 6 2/3 of shutout ball with four strikeouts.

How It Happened

As you might have expected from reading both the headline and the lede, there wasn’t much offense to come by in this game. Following a scoreless first inning, Boylston ran into trouble in the bottom of the second, allowing the lead off batter to reach base on a hit by pitch. After striking out the next batter, South Carolina’s Elliott Caldwell stole second and reached third on a throwing error by catcher Nick Graham. Boylston struckout the next better swinging before allowing a walk, putting runners on first and third. DC Arendas also stole second, and another throwing error by Graham allowed Arendas to move to third and Gore to score the game’s first run, putting the Gamecocks up 1-0.

After Reagan retired the side in the third inning, the Gamecocks struck again. A bunt single gave South Carolina a runner on first to start the inning, but Boylston responded with his fourth strikeout. After the runner stole second, Max Schrock doubled to right center to plate the Gamecocks’ second run, taking a 2-0 lead. In the next at-bat, Kyle Martin roped a double down the right field line to score Schrock in what would be the game’s last run.

Still hitless, Penn State’s first baseman J.J. White came up with two outs in the seventh inning hoping to end the embarrassment. White doubled down the left field line and third baseman Christian Helsel followed it up with a walk to chase Reagan after 6 2/3. With two on and two out, designated hitter Tyler Kendall grounded out to shortstop to end the inning and Penn State’s lone scoring chance.

Penn State’s Jared Fagnano relieved Boylston to start the seventh inning, and pitched two innings of perfect baseball. South Carolina’s Brandon Murray allowed just one hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief with three strikeouts, while releiver Cody Mincey allowed two runners to reach base before inducing pinch hitter Nick Rotto to pop out to end the game.

Player of the Game

Geoff Boylston. The redshirt senior has proved himself to be a valuable reliever during his time in Happy Valley (career 3.30 ERA, 32 walks, 40 strikeouts, .233 opp. BA in 60 IP), but only has four career starts. In his first outing of the season, the West Chester, Pa., native confounded the nation’s seventh-best club, which entered Tuesday’s game scoring 5.9 runs per game.

Quote of the Game

“Geoff Boylston pitched his tail off,” head coach Rob Cooper told GoPSUsports after the game. “I mean, he gave us a chance against the No. 7 ranked team in the country, to win that game.”

When asked about what made Boyslton effective on Tuesday night, Cooper had a simple answer: commandment.

“Geoff’s always had great stuff,” Cooper said. “Geoff’s always had the ability to be good. But if you can’t repeat it, you can’t do it for strikes, and you can’t command it, you’re not going to be successful, and tonight he did a great job of commanding.”

Game Notes

  • After a monster game against Charleston Southern, Aaron Novak entered Tuesday’s action with the nation’s best batting average — a staggering .625.
  • Novak singled in the top of the ninth to extend his hitting streak to a career-best eight games. He has a long way to go to catch Michael Campo’s school-record 41 games, set in 2000.
  • Despite a heroic effort on the mound, Boylston takes the loss, falling to 4-4 in four seasons.
  • Although the Lions found themselves with the tying runner at the plate in the final inning, they couldn’t find a way to score. Penn State stranded seven runners on base, compared to just two by South Carolina.

What’s Next?

The two teams will finish up their two-game series on Wednesday, March 11 at 7 p.m. in Columbia, S.C.

About the Author

CJ Doon

CJ is a senior journalism major from Long Island and Onward State's Sports Editor. He is a third-generation Penn Stater, and his grandfather wrestled for the university back in the 1930s under coach Charlie “Doc” Speidel. Besides writing, one of his favorite activities is making sea puns. You can follow him on Twitter @CJDoon, and send your best puns to [email protected], just for the halibut.

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