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Penn State Baseball Finds Right Pitching Formula Against Wagner

Pitching powered Penn State baseball to its 2-1 record over the weekend against Wagner. As a whole, the pitching staff threw 27 innings while allowing 17 hits and only two earned runs. After saying before the series that the pitching needed to be better, head coach Rob Cooper was pleased with the outcome he got from all of his pitchers.

“I thought all of them pitched great,” Cooper said. “Whether it was Bailey Dees, [Kyle] Virbitsky, Conor Larkin. Larkin was sick and still did a great job. I thought our bullpen was good, whether it was [Mason] Mellott or Tyler Shingledecker’s second great outing. I am very proud and pleased with where our pitchers are at.”

Dees started game one of the series and took a tough-luck loss after allowing just one run and five hits over six innings. He struck out eight and walked none. Despite being a victim of no run support, Dees did his job of keeping his team in the game. After being a middle of the rotation pitcher last season, Dees has stepped up to be the number one guy on this staff. While being the top guy could bring a lot of pressure and expectations, Dees is just focusing on his game.

“You shouldn’t look at it that way as if there is any extra pressure,” Dees said. “You just go out there and do what you have been doing for your whole career. Don’t put any extra pressure on yourself.”

Cooper loves what he sees from Dees in terms of the stuff that he has and his mindset.

“He’s got great stuff,” Cooper said. “He’s a guy who can be anywhere up to 94 mph and he’s got the workings of three really good pitches. He wants to pitch and he wants to do well.”

Shingledecker came into the first game out of the bullpen and pitched three shutout innings while striking out three. In seven innings pitched on the season, he has allowed just one base runner and has struck out eight.

Virbitsky might have had the most impressive performance of anyone this weekend, as he pitched six innings of one-hit ball while striking out six. This comes after a rocky performance in his first start of the season where he allowed four runs in three innings. Cooper was impressed with the way Virbitsky picked the team up after a tough loss.

“[Kyle] Virbitsky gave us an unbelievable effort right after us losing that we needed,” Cooper said.

Larkin started game three of the series and pitched five innings while allowing just one run. He struck out seven on the day as well. The run that he gave up was his first earned run in what has been a really impressive start to the season for him. Mason Mellott and Hutch Gagnon entered the game out of the bullpen and combined for five shutout innings. Cooper emphasized that he has guys on his pitching staff that can both start and come out of the bullpen, with Gagnon being a prime example of that.

“Hutch [Gagnon] had a great start for us opening weekend and then this past weekend, because of us only playing three games, he went to the bullpen, came out and gave us huge innings in that last game,” he said.

Looking ahead to the next series against Princeton, Cooper is going to roll with the same rotation from opening weekend. Dees will pitch game one, Virbitsky game two, Gagnon game three, and Larkin closing out the weekend in game four.

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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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