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Penn State Baseball Wins Three Games In Season-Opening Weekend

Penn State baseball (3-1) started its season strong in Cary, North Carolina with three wins and one loss in its season-opening weekend. Backed by an overall strong offensive performance, the Nittany Lions were able to start off their season on a positive note.

Bailey Dees proved why he was Rob Cooper’s opening day starter, while other pitchers stepped up with some gutsy performances to guide the team to several wins.

Game One vs. Bucknell

The Nittany Lions opened their weekend with a 9-6 win over Bucknell. Penn State jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning thanks to a sac fly by left fielder Ryan Ford. The Nittany Lions pulled away late in the game when they scored a total of seven runs in its final three frames.

Dees turned in a strong pitching performance in 5.2 innings while allowing one hit and one earned run. He struck out three and walked four. Allowing four base-runners isn’t ideal, but Bailey did a superb job of limiting the damage when they got on base.

Freshman designated hitter Matt Wood had a great day at the plate in his first career game with three hits and a walk in five plate appearances. He drove in Penn State’s second run of the game with an RBI single in the bottom of the third.

Game Two vs. NJIT

This game was an offensive struggle for the Nittany Lions, who were only able to muster two runs and five hits in a 5-2 loss. Penn State was unable to capitalize on the few opportunities that they had, as they left eight runners on base.

Kyle Virbitsky struggled in this one, allowing four runs, four hits, and two walks in three innings pitched. Relief pitcher Tyler Shingledecker came in and pitched four lights-out innings in relief of Virbitsky. He struck out five and allowed no hits as he tried to give the offense a chance to battle back.

Right fielder Curtis Robison had one hit, a walk, and drove in the only two runs for Penn State.

Game Three vs. NJIT

In game two of Saturday’s doubleheader against NJIT, Penn State prevailed 6-4 backed by a gutsy performance on the mound by Hutch Gagnon. He pitched just 3.2 innings while allowing five hits and two walks, but was able to limit the damage by allowing just two runs and striking out five.

NJIT took a 2-1 lead into the second inning, but the Nittany Lions scored two in the bottom half and led for the remainder of the game.

The offense bounced back after their lackluster first game, as they totaled six runs on nine hits. Parker Hendershot reached base in all four of his plate appearances with two hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch. In addition, he drove in Penn State’s first run in the bottom of the first. Gavin Homer and Cole Bartels collect two hits each as well.

Game Four vs. Monmouth

Penn State’s offense put on a clinic in this game as the Nittany Lions defeated Monmouth 14-2. Everyone in the starting lineup recorded at least one hit en route to 18 knocks as a team.

Matt Wood collected three hits and two RBIs as his impressive start to the season continued. Senior second baseman Gavin Homer reached base in all of his plate appearances, as he totaled two hits, a walk, and a hit-by-pitch while driving in three runs and scoring three himself.

Conor Larkin was excellent on the rubber in 5.2 innings. He allowed zero earned runs and just four hits. In addition, he struck out six batters.

Takeaways

  • With the exception of its second game, Penn State’s offense was red-hot this weekend. The team scored 31 runs total in four games. There were contributions up-and-down the lineup for Penn State’s offensive outburst.
  • Wood had an impressive start to his college career. He went 7-15 (.467) at the plate with four RBIs and two walks. He is a prime example of what this offense needs in order to have a bounce-back season.
  • The Nittany Lions’ starting rotation was overall solid all weekend long. Dees and Larkin turned in reliable performances, while Gagnon worked his way out of trouble with ease. Virbitsky struggled a little bit, but he’ll attempt to bounce back in his next start.

What’s Next?

Penn State will open up a three-game series against the Wagner Seahawks at 2 p.m. on Friday, February 21 at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary, North Carolina.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is suddenly Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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