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Penn State Baseball Defeats UMass Lowell 3-2 To Complete Series Sweep

Penn State (13-3) squeezed by UMass Lowell (2-16) at Medlar Field on Sunday afternoon in walk-off fashion for the second day in a row to complete the series sweep.

The Nittany Lions only had four hits on the day, but strong pitching and a dominant defensive effort powered Penn State to a 3-2 victory.

How It Happened

Conor Larkin got his first start on the mound for the Nittany Lions this season. The sophomore had a rocky start in the first inning, walking the first batter and quickly allowing a double, but some help from his defense helped to minimize the damage.

UMass Lowell managed to score one run on a groundout in the first, but the inning was ended when Andrew Roden was thrown out at home easily trying to score from second on a bloop single to left field.

Freshman Tyler Shingledecker came into pitch for the Nittany Lions in the top of the sixth when Conor Larkin was taken out after five innings of work. Larkin pitched well, allowing just one run and four hits, but didn’t receive any run support as the Nittany Lions were hitless through five innings.

The Nittany Lions finally earned their first hit of the afternoon on a dribbler to the third baseman from Kris Kremer that was ruled an infield single. Ryan Sloniger followed that up with a single to right field that moved the speedy Kremer to third.

Sal Fusco loaded the bases after hitting Penn State catcher Jacob Padilla with a pitch, and Ryan Ford stepped to the plate with one out in the bottom of the sixth. Ford hit a deep sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Kremer easily from third and tying the game 1-1.

UMass Lowell removed Sal Fusco with two outs remaining in the seventh after walking two consecutive batters, and the right hander allowed just two hits through 6.2 innings. The River Hawks tapped Henry Funaro to try and get the final out of the inning.

With the bases loaded, Ricky Constant came in to the game for UMass Lowell and proceeded to walk yet another Nittany Lion batter, scoring Jordan Bowersox and giving Penn State a 2-1 lead.

Mason Mellot entered the game for the Nittany Lions and quickly allowed a single to the River Hawks that moved a runner to third, followed by a hard grounder between short stop and third by Vinnie Martin that drove in a run and tied the game at two.

Both teams failed to do much in the next inning and a half and the game headed to extra innings. The River Hawks failed to drive in any runs in the top of the tenth, leaving Penn State with the chance to walk it off in the bottom half of the inning.

The Nittany Lions quickly put runners on first and second thanks to a walk and the second catcher’s interference of the game for UMass Lowell. Right fielder Ryan Ford then stepped to the plate and ripped a single up the middle, driving Ryan Sloniger in to score and winning the game for Penn State by a score of 3-2.

Takeaways

  • Despite only earning two hits off of him, Penn State worked deep into Sal Fusco’s pitch count and forced him out of the game early. Fusco clearly had his stuff working, but he had a pitch count of 113 and exited the game in the seventh inning, allowing the Nittany Lions to face a cold River Hawk bullpen.
  • The Nittany Lions bounced back from an ugly defensive performance on Saturday that allowed UMass Lowell back into the game. Conor Larkin had a strong start but only had three strikeouts, forcing his defense to make plays behind him. The Nittany Lions did just that, committing zero errors and flashing the leather on several occasions.
  • Penn State clearly has a knack for the dramatic, as this was their second consecutive walk-off win. Close games like these should hopefully prepare the Nittany Lions for big time situations they will face down the road this season.

What’s Next

Penn State will open up Big Ten play this week when they welcome Minnesota to State College. The game is scheduled for 4 p.m. on Friday, March 22 at Medlar Field.

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About the Author

Will Pegler

Will is a senior majoring in digital and print journalism and is an associate editor for Onward State. He is from Darien, Connecticut and is a lifelong Penn State football fan. He loves a good 80's comedy movie, Peaky Blinders, The Office, and the New York Yankees and Giants. You can catch some of his ridiculous sports takes on his Twitter @gritdude and yell at him on his email [email protected]

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