Penn State Baseball Defeats Rhode Island 5-3, Wins Fourth Straight
To finish out a five-game home stand, Penn State baseball hosted Rhode Island on a beautiful night for baseball at Medlar Field on Wednesday. The Nittany Lions took an early lead and never looked back, beating the Rams 5-3.
How It Happened
It appeared that Rhode Island was only working with its relief pitchers from start to finish. Penn State ended up using three pitchers, while Rhode Island used eight in the two-run victory. This gave Penn State the oppurtnity to strike first and attack an inconsistent staff.
The Nittany Lions took advantage, and came out to a strong 4-0 lead in the second inning, with all four runs coming with two outs. The run started with a deep RBI triple by Nick Riotto with two outs that brought Austin Riggins home all the way from first. It continued with Riotto scoring off a failed pickoff attempt from Rhode Island to go up 2-0.
The next two runs of the second inning were the products of a two-run single up the middle by Willie Burger to make it 4-0. Rhode Island answered back in the fourth with two runs of its own to put the Penn State lead at 4-2. Rhode Island got another run in the seventh thanks to a deep double into left field after a long, heated battle between head coach Rob Cooper and the umpires. The argument came after an out was overturned at first base for the second time.
The Nittany Lions answered with a run in the seventh to make it a 5-3 lead after the inning. A ground ball from Austin Riggins went under the glove of Rhode Island’s shortstop to score Conlin Hughes from third off the error.
With one game left until both teams started conference play, it looked like Penn State and Rhode Island chose to keep their starting pitchers off the diamond for the night. Instead, sophomore right-hander Marko Boricich started his first career game for the Blue and White. He pitched well up until the third inning, where he allowed two runs and was relieved after 3.1 IP, allowing two runs on three hits and struck out one.
Nick Distasio came in for relief and was lights out as he pitched 4.2 innings, allowing one unearned run on two hits and struck out three. Anderson came in for the last inning and got into a bit of trouble after getting the first two outs of the inning.
Anderson walked the next two batters and put the tying run on first for Rhode Island. Luckily, the arm of catcher Nick Graham was strong enough to beat out the final runner after a poorly hit ball rolled several feet away from home plate. Distasio got his first win of the season while Anderson notched his single-season career high sixth save. Penn State now moves to 9-10 on the season heading into conference play.
Player Of The Game
Austin Riggins | Freshman | Center Fielder
After struggling a bit this season, Austin Riggins had a nice game against Rhode Island on Wednesday night. Riggins hit 2-for-4 with a run and ran the base paths pretty well to help set Penn State up for multiple opportunities. Even though Riggins was hitting in the 9-hole, he performed well and it wasn’t a surprise to head coach Rob Cooper.
“[Austin] is a kid that we feel like is going to be a really good player at Penn State before his career’s all over,” Cooper said. “There’s been times where you can see that he’s doubted himself as a hitter. He’s really been putting in the work with coach Oeder and you saw it pay off for him tonight. So I’m really proud of him.”
Penn State will be heading away from Happy Valley to go to Champaign to take on Illinois in the first Big Ten series of the season this weekend starting on Friday, March 25 at 7 p.m.