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Penn State Baseball Blown Out By No. 18 Michigan 17-4 In Game One Of Doubleheader

Penn State baseball (4-9) was blown out by No. 18 Michigan (10-4) 17-4 in game one of Saturday’s doubleheader.

After topping the Wolverines in walk-off fashion on Friday, the Nittany Lions couldn’t get it done again in game two of the series. Michigan’s offense bounced back with a dominant performance, while its pitching neutralized Penn State’s offense for much of the game.

How It Happened

Conor Larkin toed the rubber in the top of the first for Penn State and shut Michigan down with the exception of one hit batsman in the inning.

After a Jay Harry groundout, Johnny Piacentino took a Cameron Weston offering deep over the left-field wall for his fourth home run of the season, giving the Nittany Lions an early 1-0 lead.

Weston then made quick work of Hannon and Spiegel to end the frame.

A leadoff single by Clark Elliott gave Michigan its first hit of the ballgame in the second inning. However, that was all Michigan got, as Larkin sat down the next three batters in order, adding two more strikeouts to his total. A one-out base hit by Gavin Homer in the bottom half of the frame was erased by a double play, bringing Larkin back out to the hill in the top of the third.

The Penn State righty struck out two more Wolverines in yet another clean inning. Cole Bartels led off Penn State’s half of the third with a bunt single, but he was subsequently picked off on a throw to first base by the catcher.

A double by Jimmy Obertop followed by a home run by Elliott with one out in the fourth gave Michigan a 2-1 lead, its first of the day. Another hit batter and an error by Tayven Kelley on a long fly ball to right field put runners on second and third. A sacrifice fly scored another run for the Wolverines before the inning ended.

Piacentino legged out a double and advanced to third on a wild pitch to start Penn State off on the right foot in the bottom half of the fourth inning. Justin Williams followed with a walk, then another wild pitch scored Piacentino and moved Williams to second. Josh Spiegel walked to put men on first and second for Kyle Hannon, who moved the runners up 90 feet with a sacrifice bunt.

A heads-up play by shortstop Tito Flores cut down a Nittany Lion run at the plate on a Gavin Homer grounder. To cap off the inning, Kelley laced an RBI double down the right-field line to score both Homer and Spiegel, and Penn State reclaimed the lead 4-3.

A walk and a double put runners on second and third for the Wolverines, then a dropped third strike tied the game up and forced Rob Cooper’s hand. Larkin was removed from the ballgame in favor of lefty Tyler Shingledecker.

Shingledecker walked the first batter he faced and Michigan followed up with a sac fly to take the lead 5-4. Another walk and a third hit batsman for Penn State’s pitching staff forced in the sixth Michigan run. Cooper then elected to put Ralph Gambino in the game for Shingledecker.

Gambino gave up a base hit to the first batter he faced, and Michigan tacked on two more runs. Kyle Hannon ended the inning with a diving catch in left-center field.

The Nittany Lions went down in order in the bottom of the fifth, and Gambino took the hill once more facing an 8-4 deficit. Gambino allowed the first two batters to reach via a walk and a hit-by-pitch, and a sac fly advanced them to second and third. Michigan pushed three more runs across on only one hit. A Josh Spiegel error on a play at the plate contributed to the scoring for the Wolverines.

Penn State couldn’t muster anything offensively in the bottom of the sixth and went down in order. Jared Freilich came on in relief of Gambino and dominated Michigan in the top half of the seventh. A single and a stolen base from Gavin Homer was all Penn State could produce in the bottom of the frame.

Freilich allowed a solo home run to Jimmy Obertop but escaped the top of the eighth otherwise unscathed. Isaiah Page came in to pitch for Michigan and with one out in the inning. Piacentino slammed a 1-2 offering into the right-center field gap for his second double of the game.

Penn State could not bring him around, however, and Freilich came out to pitch the ninth still in a 12-4 hole.

Freilich loaded the bases with no outs and was pulled by Cooper in favor of lefty Ryan Partridge. Michigan scored five runs and only recorded two outs before Braden Halladay was inserted into the game to record the final out of the ninth.

A single by Tayven Kelley was all the Nittany Lions got in the bottom of the ninth, and they’ll attempt to bounce back in the final game of the series.

Takeaways

  • Control was an issue for the Nittany Lion pitching staff in this one. Penn State’s pitchers yielded four walks and four hit batsmen in the first six innings of today’s game. Eight free baserunners came back to haunt the Nittany Lions’ staff, as Michigan scored 11 runs on just six hits in the first two-thirds of the contest.
  • Despite the loss, Johnny Piacentino had himself a day, folks. Penn State’s star centerfielder racked up two doubles and a home run after struggling a bit recently. The freshman also scored two of the Nittany Lions four runs on the day. Penn State needs this version of Piacentino going forward to provide a spark to its offense.
  • Strikeouts continue to be a problem for the Nittany Lions. Eleven strikeouts on the day limited the ability of the offense to score runs even though the squad recorded eight hits.

What’s Next

The Nittany Lions will take on the Wolverines in the third and final game of the series in game two of today’s doubleheader. First pitch is coming up shortly.

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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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