Penn State Baseball Boasts Improved Offense In Four-Game Weekend Set

In series past, a good week from freshman phenom Johnny Piacentino was the extent of an offensive explosion for the Nittany Lions.

However, it was Piacentino’s teammates who did major damage this week in the team’s four-game outing in East Lansing. Late-game scoring defined the Nittany Lions’ production when the team showed resiliency to fight deep into each game.

Junior first baseman Parker Hendershot had himself quite a weekend. The Barton, New York, native racked up six hits in the three games that he started. Hendershot walloped two solo home runs in game four, threatening Purdue so much that they intentionally walked him in his third at-bat of the game. When given the opportunity, Hendershot came through in big spots for Penn State all weekend, plating four runs with his productive hitting.

Matt Wood also left his mark on the series in a big way, collecting a hitting cycle over the course of the series. His five extra-base hits led the way for the Nittany Lions while he also racked up five RBIs.

Wood has been on a hot streak lately as well, hitting safely in seven consecutive games since his return from injury in last week’s series against Rutgers.

Early on this season, Penn State was plagued by strikeouts and could not string hits together to score runs. In this series, although strikeouts were still an issue, the hits came in bunches. The mark of a good baseball team is timely and consistent hitting, and the offense has found its groove in that regard by scoring runs in the eighth inning or later in each game this past weekend.

With this newfound offensive consistency, Penn State has displayed all the pieces that a winning team needs to succeed. The Nittany Lions have shown dominant starting pitching, shut-down relief pitching, and now, a consistent display at the plate.

The key to success in the future will be putting it all together.

The pitchers did well in two out of the four games this past weekend, with both of those contests resulting in Penn State victories. The offense can only do so much if the pitching isn’t there, and vice versa. As the season reaches a critical point for Penn State, it becomes all the more necessary for each aspect of the game to show up more consistently.

Since the series loss to then-No. 18 Michigan, Penn State has won four out of seven games, mostly due to this vastly improved offense. Sure, there have been some dominant pitching performances by Nittany Lion hurlers. But it has really been the improved hitting that has been getting it done as of late. The Nittany Lions have scored four or more runs in their last six contests, and three of those have resulted in wins.

Banking on the pitching staff to get things done has not been a consistent bet for coach Rob Cooper, and the offensive explosion this past weekend was exactly what Penn State needed to show going into a matchup against a Nebraska team that boasts one of the best offenses in the Big Ten.

Penn State plays the Cornhuskers and Ohio State in consecutive weeks. Both teams sit well above .500 in the standings.

The Nittany Lions are at a point in their season where they could fall flat and get brutally swept in both series, or they could step up and take three or even four out of the next six games.

The season hangs in the balance, but Penn State’s offensive display this weekend shows that it should be up to the task when it takes on some of the Big Ten’s best in upcoming weeks.

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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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