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Penn State Baseball Wins Two In Four-Game Weekend Series

Penn State baseball (8-13) played four games at McLane Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan this weekend, splitting two-game sets against Michigan State (10-10) and Purdue (5-14).

The Nittany Lions’ offense was firing on all cylinders this weekend, as it recorded nine-plus hits in each game, and tied its season-high with 17 hits in the win over Purdue. The pitching showed flashes of brilliance as well, as Kyle Virbitsky delivered the best pitching performance of the year for Rob Cooper’s squad in the third game of the weekend.

Game One Vs. Michigan State

Penn State dropped the first game against Michigan State by a score of 7-4. The Nittany Lions couldn’t quite catch the Spartans in this one, but Rob Cooper’s squad was able to string together some hits and show life in the late innings of the game. Curtis Robison impressed for Penn State, as the right fielder went 3-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored in the contest out of the eight-hole.

Bailey Dees took the mound for Penn State and after allowing three runs in the first two innings, found his groove and cruised through five solid frames. He ended with five earned runs on seven hits with two walks and two strikeouts, however, two of those runs were inherited and allowed to score in the sixth.

Michigan State struck first in the contest, scoring two runs in the first inning and one more in the second off of Dees, all with nobody out. Penn State got on the board in the top of the third inning when Curtis Robison smacked a 1-0 offering from Mason Erla over the center-field fence for his first homer of the season.

After a rocky sixth, Hutch Gagnon settled in and got the Nittany Lions to the eighth inning when the offense loaded the bases with two outs. An hour-long rain delay interrupted proceedings and brought things to a halt.

After Michigan State extended the lead to 7-2 in the bottom of the frame, Penn State recorded five hits in the top half of the ninth, scoring two runs sparked by consecutive doubles by Matt Wood and Josh Spiegel.

The Nittany Lions had the bases full for the second inning in a row, but could not bring in any more runs, and Michigan State escaped with the victory.

Michigan State’s Mason Erla became the fifth Spartan ever to reach 200 career strikeouts with his seven-strikeout performance against Penn State.

Game Two Vs. Michigan State

Penn State downed Michigan State 7-3 in the second game of the four-game weekend. The Nittany Lions erupted out of the gate and put up four runs in the first inning to grab a lead they would not relinquish.

The offense chased Michigan State’s starting pitcher out of the game after recording only one out in the first inning. Matt Wood’s two-run shot capped off a fantastic start for Penn State.

Conor Larkin took the hill for Penn State in this one and delivered a gutsy performance to the tune of 5.2 innings of three-run ball. In a shaky first inning, Larkin allowed two runs to cross and also took a screaming line drive off the shin but stayed in the game to complete his outing.

The Nittany Lions recorded 11 hits for the second consecutive game, but this time it was enough to beat the Spartans. Gavin Homer, Tayven Kelley, and Matt Wood all ended with multiple hits, while Justin Williams and Wood each recorded two RBIs as well.

In relief of Larkin, Tyler Shingledecker was absolutely dominant, striking out four Spartans in 3.1 scoreless innings.

Game One Vs. Purdue

The Diamond Lions played their best game of the season in this one, shutting out the Boilermakers by a score of 11-0.

Junior right-hander Kyle Virbitsky dominated Purdue’s lineup from top to bottom, tossing 8.1 shutout innings of five-hit baseball in a career-best outing.

Steven Miller relieved Virbitsky and slammed the door on the Boilermakers in the bottom of the ninth. Virbitsky finished his gem with six strikeouts and zero walks.

Penn State’s offense blasted Purdue’s pitching throughout the game, which gave Virbitsky ample opportunity to earn the win. Matt Wood and Parker Hendershot led the way for Penn State, as they each smacked three hits and racked up multiple RBIs. Three other Nittany Lions recorded multi-hit games, as Penn State finished the day with 17 in total, tied for its season-high.

The offense scored five runs in the final two frames, highlighted by home runs off the bats of Wood and Kris Kremer in the top of the ninth inning.

Penn State delivered an all-around performance in the third of four games in Big Ten pod play in East Lansing.

Game Two Vs. Purdue

Acting as the home team in this game, Penn State lost 8-4 to a Purdue team that bounced back from Saturday’s disaster and capitalized on its opportunities.

Jaden Henline toed the rubber for Penn State and struggled out of the gate, leading to a short outing of only 3.1 innings. Rob Cooper ended up using five other pitchers in the game to keep the Boilermakers on their toes with four-days rest coming up for the Nittany Lions.

Parker Hendershot was the big offensive producer on the day, as his two solo home runs kept the Nittany Lions in the ballgame for the first five innings.

Penn State took the lead in the bottom of the sixth but gave it right back the next inning. Although Penn State threatened in the bottom of the ninth, the two runs that the Boilermakers scored in the top of the frame were enough to put the game away for good.

Takeaways

  • The offense came to play this weekend. With nine-plus hits in every game, the Diamond Lions showed out and proved they could beat the teams that they should. They also proved they could be productive without a great series from star center fielder Johnny Piacentino. With a series coming up against a talented Nebraska squad, Penn State will need to keep to bats moving.
  • Kyle Virbitsky turned in his second dominant performance in a row for the Nittany Lions. His 8.1 innings pitched against Purdue was the longest outing of the season for any Penn State pitcher. Couple that with his 7.1 innings against Rutgers last weekend, and it’s fair to say the big righty is on a bit of a hot streak right now.
  • This team does not quit. Penn State scored runs in the eighth inning or later in every game this weekend. This is a sign of resilience from a club that will have to hit with one of the best offenses in the conference its next time out.

What’s Next

Penn State will return home to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for a three-game weekend series against the current top team in the Big Ten, the Nebraska Cornhuskers. The first game is set for 6 p.m. on Friday, April 16.

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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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