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Penn State Baseball Falls In Series Finale To Nebraska 5-3

Penn State baseball (8-16) dropped the final game of its three-game set with Nebraska (18-6) 5-3 Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The loss solidified a three-game sweep that saw the Cornhuskers simply outplay the Nittany Lions over the course of the weekend. Kyle Virbitsky was solid in his five innings on the mound, but Penn State wasn’t able to push across enough runs and played shaky defense throughout the game.

The loss extends Penn State’s losing streak to four games dating back to last Sunday’s loss to Purdue in East Lansing.

How It Happened

Kyle Virbitsky took the mound for the Nittany Lions to start the game fresh off his dominant 8.1-inning performance last time out against Purdue. He worked around two baserunners and struck out two in a scoreless opening frame in this one. Nebraska starter Shay Schanaman allowed a one-out triple to left fielder Tayven Kelley, but struck out Matt Wood and induced a Justin Williams groundout to escape the inning without giving up a run.

In the second inning, the two pitchers each pitched a scoreless frame to send the game to the top of the third.

Virbitsky got himself into immediate trouble in the third after allowing a leadoff double to right fielder Joe Acker. A flyout moved Acker over to third, then Spencer Schwellenbach drove him in with a single to center to put the Huskers ahead 1-0. However, Virbitsky was able to get out of the inning without any further damage.

The Nittany Lions got the bats moving in the bottom of the frame and loaded the bases with one out thanks to singles by Jay Harry and Gavin Homer, while Tayven Kelley reached on an error. Penn State pushed a run across on a wild pitch to tie the game 1-1 before Schanaman got out of the inning.

Virbitsky was betrayed by his defense in the top of the fourth, as Homer and Harry each committed an error. Nebraska capitalized and scored one run to take a 2-1 lead, though, it would’ve been worse if it wasn’t for a crafty play by Virbitsky to nab the runner at home on an attempted safety squeeze play.

Schanaman responded with a scoreless inning to send Nebraska’s offense back to the plate for the top of the fifth. Virbitsky allowed a double, single, and a walk to load the bases with no outs. Left fielder Leighton Banjoff drove in two runs with a single to make it a 4-1 game before Virbitsky retired the next three batters.

Penn State answered right back in the bottom of the fifth with a run of its own. After Cole Bartels reached on a bunt single and advanced to second, Homer ripped a double down the left-field line to cut into Nebraska’s lead and make it a 4-2 ballgame.

Rob Cooper went to his bullpen in the sixth inning, as he pulled Virbitsky in favor of left-hander Tyler Shingledecker. The lefty retired the first two batters, but a walk, wild pitch, and a single allowed a run to come across and score to expand the Huskers’ lead to 5-2.

With the team down three runs, Williams reached on an error and Johnny Piacentino doubled to set the Nittany Lions up with runners on second and third in the bottom of the sixth. Curtis Robison drove in Williams with a groundout to cut Nebraska’s lead to 5-3 before Schanaman got the third and final out in the inning.

After Shingledecker set the Huskers down in order in the seventh, left-hander Jake Bunz entered the game for Nebraska and set Penn State down 1-2-3 to advance the game to the eighth inning. Shingledecker and Bunz each pitched a scoreless frame in the eighth to move the game right along.

Shingledecker pitched a scoreless ninth, but Penn State wasn’t able to score any runs in its final chance in the bottom half, losing the game 5-3.

Takeaways

  • Errors haunted Rob Cooper’s squad in today’s series finale. Four errors, including two in the fourth inning that led to one Nebraska run, loomed large in the loss. The Nittany Lions committed at least two errors in every game this series, something that certainly contributed to the disappointing weekend.
  • Despite making some hard contact during the game, Penn State’s offense just wasn’t able to push across enough runs in this one. The low-scoring output from the offense was a theme throughout the weekend, as the team scored just seven total runs across three games.
  • Kyle Virbitsky didn’t have his best stuff today, but he battled and limited the damage in his five innings. The 6’7″ right-hander gave up six hits, four walks, and hit a batter, though, limited the Huskers to four runs (three earned). Additionally, the previously mentioned errors gave him an extra challenge to deal with in the game.

What’s Next

Penn State will hit the road next week for a three-game set with Ohio State in Columbus. The first game is scheduled for 6:05 p.m. on Friday, April 23.

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About the Author

Gabe Angieri

Gabe is a senior majoring in journalism and is Onward State's managing editor. He grew up in Lindenhurst, New York, and has had the absolute misfortune of rooting for the Jets, Mets, and Knicks. If you want to see his bad sports takes, follow him on Twitter @gabeangieri and direct all hate mail and death threats to [email protected]

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