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Penn State Baseball Drops Game Two Against Nebraska 11-2

Penn State baseball (8-15) lost the second matchup of a three-game weekend series 11-2 to the Nebraska Cornhuskers (17-6) Saturday.

Nebraska jumped out to a 5-0 first-inning lead and never looked back. A stellar pitching performance by Chance Hroch and some costly Nittany Lions errors gave Nebraska’s high-powered offense ample room to work in this one.

How It Happened

Conor Larkin toed the rubber for Penn State in the top of the first, and two runs came across the plate before the first out was recorded. A couple of well-placed base hits allowed Nebraska to jump out to a 5-0 lead early in the game. The Nittany Lions could not get anything going in the last of the frame, bringing Larkin back out to the mound.

The first batter of the inning reached via catcher’s interference, and a line drive down the right-field line could have been trouble, but the runner was gunned down at second base by Curtis Robison. The Cornhuskers tacked on a single run in the inning, taking a 6-0 lead into the bottom of the second.

Justin Williams picked up the first hit of the day for Penn State on a slow roller that glanced off the third-base bag. Matt Wood followed with a liner to right field that put runners on first and second bases with nobody out. A clutch two-out, two-strike infield single from Parker Hendershot plated the first run of the ballgame to get Penn State on the board.

Larkin came back out for the top of the third and pitched around a two-out walk to give his teammates a chance to chip back at the 6-1 Nebraska lead in the home half of the third. However, a leadoff walk for Gavin Homer was all the Nittany Lions could muster.

Nebraska added another run in the top of the fourth, and Penn State was able to answer with a two-out double off the bat of Curtis Robison that scored Josh Spiegel.

Logan Evans came in to pitch for Larkin in the fifth inning, facing a 7-2 deficit. A leadoff double was erased on a play at the plate with one out, and Evans escaped unscathed. Another Gavin Homer walk did not amount to anything in the bottom of the fifth.

Nebraska scored once more in the top of the sixth against Evans, but the freshman righty kept the damage to a minimum once again. Nebraska hurler Chance Hroch, who had cruised through five innings of two-run ball, faced the heart of Penn State’s order in the last of the sixth. Two long fly balls to the wall from Justin Williams and Matt Wood were just loud outs, and the Nittany Lions went down in order.

After allowing two men to reach base with two outs, Evans was replaced by southpaw Hutch Gagnon. A line-drive single off the bat of Jaxon Hallmark was misplayed by Curtis Robison in right field, and both Nebraska runners crossed the plate. A strikeout would get Gagnon and the Nittany Lions out of the inning. Penn State failed to score once more in the bottom of the seventh, and Gagnon came back out for the eighth.

Gagnon pitched a clean half-inning, giving his team an opportunity to close the gap. However, Nebraska reliever Max Schreiber shut them down in order.

Blaise Scalfani took over on the mound for Penn State in the top of the ninth, allowed one run, and loaded the bases before Steven Miller was brought in to get out of the inning. The Nittany Lions faced lefty Ethan Bradford in the bottom of the ninth, but a leadoff walk was to no avail.

Takeaways

  • This Nebraska offense is relentless. Multiple hit-and-run plays worked in its favor because of the offense’s ability to make contact with the baseball. Good things happen when you put the ball in play folks, and unfortunately for the Nittany Lions, the Cornhuskers put that on full display today.
  • Penn State needs to jump on second and third starters. Before today’s game, Nebraska’s Hroch gave up five earned runs in two consecutive games, but the Nittany Lions managed only five hits and two runs off of him in seven innings. Sure, Penn State’s pitchers didn’t fare well. But the offense needs to do better when the top starters aren’t out there.
  • The Nittany Lions’ defense was shaky once again today. After a stretch of clean games from coach Rob Cooper’s squad committed three errors against Nebraska in this one. Playing “boring,” fundamental baseball was something Cooper stressed at the beginning of the season, but the squad could not get it done today. Four of the Cornhusker’s ten runs were unearned.

What’s Next?

Penn State will attempt to salvage one game of the series when it takes on Nebraska in the third and final game of the set Sunday morning. First pitch from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is set for 11 a.m.

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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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