Nine-Run First Inning Boosts Baseball Past Kent State, 15-5
The Nittany Lions scored nine runs and sent 13 batters to the box in the first inning to earn a road win and split the season series at Kent State Tuesday night, 15-5. Penn State (13-23) met Kent State (21-16) three weeks ago in State College, dropping a 9-7 game to the Golden Flash. Days after his SportsCenter web gem, senior Taylor Skerpon had a career night, driving in four runs on five at bats and scoring twice.
How It Happened
A dismal first inning of pitching from Kent State’s John Birkbeck saw James Coates and Greg Guers draw walks and Aaron Novak hit by a pitch to load the bases. Jim Haley then reached base on balls to score the game’s first run. J.J. White plated two more runners with a double to right-center field. Birkbeck was swiftly relieved of his duties after seeing only five batters and giving up three runs on one hit.
The Lions were unfazed by the pitching change. Ryan Richter reached base on an error, scoring two runs in the process. Skerpon then singled up the middle to send Richter home, putting Penn State up 6-0. Penn State returned to the top of the order when Coates brought Skerpon home on an RBI single.
Kent State worked its way back to make it a 9-4 game after three frames thanks to back-to-back home runs, but it was too little, too late. The Lions continued to hammer the pitching, scoring six more runs on ten hits to seal the game.
Tom Mullin made his second career start for Penn State, allowing four runs (all earned) on five hits with three walks and one strikeout in three innings pitched. Dakota Forsyth picked up the win for the Lions, tossing five innings and allowing just one run on one hit. The Flashes sent a total of eight pitchers to the mound in the contest.
Coach Cooper said recently that the team needs to push runners through early on in the game and the Lions did exactly that on Tuesday. After a rough three-game series sweep in Minnesota that saw only four Penn State runs in the first three innings, it was refreshing to see the bats connecting and runs being put on the board. Kent State isn’t a Big Ten team, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a quality squad. This team has seen wins over No. 21 Baylor, West Virginia, Coastal Carolina, and No. 25 Illinois.
These next two weeks will be the last chance to catch the Nittany Lions at home for the rest of the season. Penn State opens up a three-game series with No. 8 Illinois at 6:30 on Friday. The series continues on Saturday at 2 p.m. and wraps up on Sunday at 10 a.m.