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Penn State Baseball Swept By Indiana In Lopsided Series

Penn State baseball (2-6) dropped all four games against the Indiana Hoosiers (7-1) this past weekend in Bloomington in a disappointing showing.

A flurry of postponements that pushed the series to doubleheaders on both Saturday and Sunday was the result of a positive COVID-19 test from Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer. Pitching coach Justin Parker acted as manager in the series for the Hoosiers. He stepped in with ease and the Hoosiers took care of Penn State in a pair of doubleheaders.

Game One

The Nittany Lions dropped the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader by a score of 7-2. Erratic pitching was the main contributor to Penn State’s loss in the seven-inning contest.

After a solid first inning, Bailey Dees ran into trouble in the bottom half of the second frame. He struggled to find the strike zone, and yielded three runs in the inning.

Penn State responded in the top half of the third inning when Gavin Homer laced an RBI double into left field that brought in Justin Williams and Curtis Robison who had walked and doubled, respectively.

The wheels really came off in the bottom of the fifth inning, as Dees allowed the first two batters to reach base, resulting in a pitching change for Penn State. Freshman Logan Evans entered the game and allowed three runs to cross in the frame, including a bases-loaded walk.

The Nittany Lion offense couldn’t capitalize on opportunities that were given to them, resulting in eight baserunners stranded on the day. Three fielding errors also proved costly for Rob Cooper’s squad, as only five of the Hoosier’s seven runs were earned.

Game Two

Penn State fell victim to one of the greatest pitching performances in Indiana program history in an 8-0 loss in the second game of the series.

Right-hander McCade Brown stole the show, striking out 16 Nittany Lions over seven no-hit innings. Brown was removed from the game due to his elevated pitch count, but his massive strikeout total tied the Indiana program record for a single game.

Yeah, he was that good folks — even the PitchingNinja took notice.

Penn State right-hander Conor Larkin took the loss, but turned in a fantastic performance of his own, only allowing two hits and one earned run over five innings.

The Nittany Lion bullpen blew a fabulous pitcher’s duel in the bottom of the sixth inning where, in relief of Larkin, Steven Miller and Hutch Gagnon allowed seven Indiana runners to cross the plate while only recording two outs. Freshman Carson Kohls then came in to clean up the mess, getting the final out of the sixth and subsequently finishing the game without giving up another run.

Penn State’s dismal showing resulted in 18 strikeouts and only a single hit by Jay Harry for an offense that scored 13 runs on 17 hits in a game less than a week prior.

Game Three

The Nittany Lions did everything right in this one, up until the very last inning when a walkoff homer left Penn State with a 6-5 loss.

The Hoosiers struck first against Jaden Henline in the bottom of the first inning to make the score 1-0.

Penn State got it going in the top of the third frame beginning with walks to Justin Williams and Cole Bartels that put two men on base with nobody out. A Curtis Robison RBI single followed by a two-RBI triple from Gavin Homer made the score 3-1 in favor of Penn State. Johnny Piacentino brought in Homer with a single of his own capping off a four-run inning for the Nittany Lions.

Piacentino delivered another RBI single in the top of the fifth inning to extend Penn State’s lead.

Jaden Henline pitched well, going 4.1 innings and giving up two runs on three hits while striking out five Hoosiers. Tyler Shingledecker came on in relief of Henline, and that’s where things went downhill for the Nittany Lions.

A solid game all-around for Penn State was brought to a heartbreaking end, as Grant Richardson blasted a Tyler Shingledecker offering over the fence in the bottom of the seventh inning for a three-run walk-off home run.

Shingledecker finished the game with two innings pitched and four earned runs while taking the loss.

Game Four

Again, offensive woes prevented Penn State from coming out on top of this one, as the Nittany Lions only scored one run to Indiana’s two in the loss.

Kyle Virbitsky delivered a great bounce-back outing after being shelled by Northwestern last weekend. The righty became the first Penn State starter to pitch into the sixth inning this season and finished with 6.1 innings with five strikeouts while only giving up two runs on six hits. Mason Mellott came on in relief and allowed an inherited runner to score, giving Indiana a lead they would not relinquish.

Offensively, Penn State didn’t muster much at all, as it stranded the bases loaded in the second inning, and its first hit came all the way in the fifth inning in the form of a Justin Williams double.

The Nittany Lions loaded the bases with two outs in the top of the eighth, but a Jay Harry strikeout ended the threat.

Two hits was all Penn State could muster in this one, and Indiana was able to complete the four-game sweep over the Nittany Lions.

Takeaways

  • The bullpen is a massive issue for Rob Cooper’s squad. There’s honestly not much more to say here other than the starters have done a fine job, with a couple of exceptions, of keeping the team in games, but the bullpen’s incompetence has resulted in blown leads and large run totals for opposing teams.
  • Errors continue to be a problem for the Nittany Lions. The pitching took the brunt of the damage in this series, but ~six~ errors in the series certainly contributed to the aforementioned elevated pitch counts. Fewer errors result in a cleaner overall game, which Penn State desperately needs.
  • Where did the offense go? Last week we raved on the Nittany Lions’ hitting prowess, but this week, the team only recorded 13 hits in the whole series. Penn State was presented with many opportunities to score runs, but the bats just were not there.

What’s Next

Penn State will return home for its first series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park in the 2021 season. The Nittany Lions will take on Maryland in a three-game series, playing one game per day on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

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About the Author

Matt Rudisill

Matt is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism from a little town called Parkesburg in Chester County, PA. More often than not, you can catch him yelling about the Phillies and the Steelers on his Twitter (@mrudy26). Matt is also an elite wiffleball pitcher and is not afraid to back up that claim. Direct all wiffleball challenge invitations, or other legitimate requests, to [email protected].

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