Penn State Baseball Takes Down Lafayette 3-2
Penn State baseball (18-18, 1-13 Big Ten) defeated Lafayette (14-25, 8-9 Patriot) 3-2 on Wednesday night to pull its record back up to an even .500 on the season.
Conor Larkin started on the mound for the Nittany Lions, delivering six shutout innings and seven strikeouts. Despite the win, offense was sporadic for Penn State. Rob Cooper’s squad managed to score only three runs on just five hits.
Justin Williams’ solo home run in the second and Mac Hippenhammer’s lead-off triple in the fifth were a pair of highlights in a mostly lackluster offensive performance.
How It Happened
After going down in order in the first inning, third baseman Justin Williams led off the second with a monster solo shot to left-center field. Williams’ third home run of the season measured in at 445 feet to give the Nittany Lions an early lead.
Larkin worked his way out of a two-out jam with runners on the corners in the top of the fourth inning by fanning Lafayette’s Dan Leckie on three pitches. It didn’t take long before he was back on the mound with runners on the corners again in the fifth inning — this time with only one out. The sophomore stayed ice cool out of the stretch, forcing a pop up and striking out his fifth of the night to get out of the inning unscathed.
Mac Hippenhammer drove a leadoff triple to right-center in the bottom of the fifth and later scored on a fielder’s choice back to the pitcher. The sophomore outfielder showcased his blazing speed in his trip around the bases, which extended the Nittany Lions’ lead to two runs.
Larkin found himself in yet another pickle in the top of the sixth with the bases loaded and one out. He kept his cool under pressure again, forcing an infield fly before striking out another helpless Lafayette batter to escape.
Lafayette went to the bullpen in the bottom of the sixth, but its side-arm relief pitcher hit the first batter he faced. Gavin Homer stole second before earning third base on a balk, and Parker Hendershot brought him home with an RBI single for what would be a crucial insurance run.
The Leopards got two runs back in the top of the seventh off reliever Tyler Shingledecker. However, the freshman was able to do some damage control, stranding the tying run at second base to end the inning with a 3-2 lead.
Mason Mellott came in to shut the door for the Nittany Lions in the eighth inning, retiring the side in order. The ninth inning wasn’t as smooth for Mellott, as he let runners on first and second with two outs.
Trey Durrah singled to the second baseman, Kris Kremer, who made an incredible diving stop ranging to his right and popped up to throw the tying run out at home to end the ballgame. Mellott earned the two-inning save thanks in large part to Kremer’s heads-up defensive play.
- Add Conor Larkin to the list of athletes with ice in their veins. The sophomore was absolutely dealing tonight, and every time he needed a big strike out to get out of a jam, he delivered.
- Freshman Justin Williams has been hitting the weight room, and he couldn’t wait to put his big time power on display. His solo home run in the second went soaring over the 410-foot notch in left center field. Medlar Field at Lubrano Park shares the same dimensions as Pittsburgh’s PNC Park, and many big leaguers can attest that this is no small feat.
- Mac Hippenhammer left his mark on both sides of this game with an impressive leaping catch in front of the wall in right and his first career triple. The two-sport athlete is making a name for himself in his sophomore campaign with Rob Cooper’s team.
The Nittany Lions will host Maryland for a three-game, weekend series starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, April 26.
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