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Penn State Baseball Slides Past UMass-Lowell 7-6

Penn State baseball (12-3) nabbed a win over UMass-Lowell (2-15) at home on Saturday in the second of a three-game series thanks to a walk-off error.

Despite on and off snow flurries and below-40 degree temperatures, the Nittany Lions looked active on both sides, and were powered to a win that came down to the wire by solid pitching and hot hitting.

How It Happened

The top of the first looked good for Penn State. Starting pitcher Bailey Dees struck out the first two batters and a groundout retired the side for the Nittany Lions.

The first couple innings were rather quiet — a hit apiece for each team by the end of the second. But the Nittany Lions’ bats were more active and got some contact on the ball while UMass-Lowell was finding little luck against Dees.

That quietness was broken during the bottom of the third. Ryan Ford got a single through before freshman Justin Williams shot a ball to the stars. The ball found its way over the right field fence for the first home run of his career. Penn State got a couple more hits in, but couldn’t drive anymore home as the side was retired with a 2-0 Nittany Lion lead.

A fly ball to left field led to a series of fielding mistakes for Penn State, with a dive for the ball from Mason Nadeau coming up short as the two runners came in for UMass-Lowell.

After a meeting on the mound, the Nittany Lions were able to get out of the inning, but at the cost of a 2-2 ballgame in the bottom of the fifth.

A triple from Ford led to a walk for Williams to open up the inning for Penn State. An error from the shortstop led to a fielder’s choice, which brought Ford home for the go-ahead run. Despite having two runners on base, Parker Hendershot and Kris Kremer whiffed back to back to end the side.

The bats kept swinging for Penn State as the bottom of the sixth got underway. A double off the bat of catcher Jacob Padilla started things off, and it was followed by a triple from Nadeau to drive home Padilla.

A single up the middle from shortstop Conlin Hughes then brought home another run. The runs kept coming in — Hughes arrived home on a wild pitch to make it a 6-2 Penn State lead at the end of the sixth.

Dees was still in the game going into the seventh inning. After giving up a single, he struck out two Riverhawk batters in a row to break his single-game strikeout record.

Throwing more than 100 pitches was getting to the sophomore. He allowed another hit and two walks to load the bases as Tyler Shingledecker entered the game in relief. The freshman walked the first batter he faced to trim the lead to 6-3. He was able to get his composure back by forcing a groundout to end the threat.

Reliver Kyle Virbitsky found himself in another bases loaded situation in the top of the eighth. UMass-Lowell wouldn’t go down without a fight in the final two innings. The Riverhawks loaded up the bases once more, and a fielder’s choice brought home another run. Another error at first base allowed two more runs and a 6-6 tie, but Virbitsky struck out the next batter he faced.

Kris Kremer led off the bottom of the ninth with a triple. Padilla struck out after a defensive at-bat, but it was Nadeau who hit a ball that just went through the defender’s legs. Kremer came home to give Penn State a huge win in Happy Valley on a play that was recorded as an error.

Takeaways

  • Saturday was a rough day for the Penn State defense. Multiple miscommunications and four errors gave the Riverhawks plenty of opportunities, including three unearned runs in the ninth.
  • Starting pitching continues to be a strength for the Lions. Bailey Dees struck out a career-high 10 batters. The shaky bullpen may have spoiled his performance, but it didn’t take away from UMass-Lowell’s inability to find a way to score while he was on the mound.
  • Penn State still finds itself tied on top of the Big Ten table ahead of Illinois (12-3) and Michigan (11-4). It’s obviously still very early in the 2019 season, but the Nittany Lions have put together a very promising start.

What’s Next

Penn State will finish up this season’s home opening series against UMass-Lowell on Sunday. First pitch is slated for noon back at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

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About the Author

Matt Paolizzi

Matt is a sophomore majoring in Secondary Education, minoring in philosophy, and is from the fabled land of "just outside Philly." He'll gladly talk your ear off about anything from Picasso to Wu-Tang Clan and lives and dies by Philly sports. Send him seething rants and death threats at [email protected]

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