Penn State Baseball Puts Away Michigan State 7-6 In Hard-Fought Game
The Penn State Diamond Lions (10-18) defeated the Michigan State Spartans (11-19) by a score of 7-6 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday night.
The afternoon rain cleared out just in time for baseball on a chilly, windy evening in State College. Bailey Dees delivered a solid performance on the mound for Penn State, and a relentless offense that capitalized on free passes proved to be the difference in a tough battle in which the Spartans out-hit the Nittany Lions 10-8.
How It Happened
Junior Bailey Dees took the mound for Penn State in the top of the first and mowed down the Spartans in order on just eleven pitches. Tayven Kelley drew a one-out walk in the home half of the frame, giving the Nittany Lions their first baserunner against Spartans starter Mason Erla. That was all they would get since Kelley was eventually cut down trying to steal second for the third out of the inning.
Michigan State picked up its first hit of the evening in the top of the second, and Dees followed up by plunking the next batter to put two men on with one out before striking out the next two hitters to end the Spartan threat.
Justin Williams led off with a walk in the bottom of the second, and Johnny Piacentino followed with a single to put runners on first and second with nobody out. Josh Spiegel laid down a gorgeous sac bunt to advance the runners, and Curtis Robison brought in a run with an RBI groundout to put Penn State on the board. The Nittany Lions struck once again, as Parker Hendershot took the first pitch he saw from Erla and smoked a line drive to right-center field for an RBI double.
Dees came back out in the top of the third with a 2-0 lead and surrendered two singles in the inning before loading the bases with a one-out walk. One run came across the plate for the Spartans on a fielder’s choice, but that was all they would get off of Dees in the frame. The Nittany Lion offense couldn’t get anything going in their half, and the score remained 2-1 heading into the fourth inning.
Michigan took the lead in the top of the fourth, as a leadoff hit batsman came back to bite Dees. Two singles brought in two runs for the Spartans, and Penn State faced a 3-2 deficit now heading into the bottom of the inning.
Williams took the first pitch of the inning and roped it down the left-field line for a double. Piacentino followed with a shallow bloop double of his own that didn’t end up being deep enough to score Williams, but still left Penn State with two men in scoring position with nobody out. Curtis Robison collected his second RBI on the day with another run-scoring groundout before the Spartans got out of the inning, tying the game 3-3.
Dees flew through the Michigan State order in the fifth, sitting the Spartans down 1-2-3 for the second time in the game. Jay Harry led off with a double in the bottom of the inning, and Penn State took the lead back on an RBI single off the bat of Gavin Homer.
Erla then walked Tayven Kelley, and an error on a fielder’s choice plated an insurance run for the Nittany Lions.
Pitching with a 5-3 lead in the sixth, Dees dominated once again and recorded his third 1-2-3 inning on the day as well as his fourth strikeout. Erla came back out firing as well and sat down Penn State in a clean inning of his own.
Tyler Shingledecker came on in relief of Dees to start the seventh inning and hit the first batter he faced. The Nittany Lion lefty recorded one out before Michigan State brought in a run on an RBI single from Zaid Walker. A throwing error on the part of Curtis Robison allowed Walker to move to second on the play. Shingledecker settled in and recorded the final two outs of the inning with no further damage.
Michigan State brought in its own lefty to handle the relief duties in the seventh inning, and he too allowed the first batter to reach base. Following the walk to Jay Harry, Dominic Hann beaned Gavin Homer, and Penn State was threatening once again with two men on and nobody out. Another well-placed sacrifice bunt moved the runners up 90 feet into scoring position. The Spartans elected to bring in another pitcher to face Matt Wood with one out in the inning. Wyatt Rush walked Wood to load the bases with one away. Williams brought in one run on a groundout, but that was all the Nittany Lions could come away with.
Mason Mellott relieved Shingledecker to start the eighth, with Penn State leading 6-4. Mellott gave up one run on two hits, including a stand-up triple, before getting out of the inning. With a 6-5 lead, Josh Spiegel drew a leadoff walk, and Curtis Robison smacked a double to give the Nittany Lions men in scoring position with nobody out. Parker Hendershot capitalized on the threat and delivered a bloop single over the head of the second baseman to increase Penn State’s lead to 7-5.
Mellott came back out for the ninth, and after allowing another Michigan State run to cross, he got Peter Ahn to strike out looking to secure the Penn State victory.
- Penn State played a clean baseball game today, folks. Aside from one throwing error, the squad had a great day in the field. What was really impressive, though, were the two fantastic sacrifice bunts. Moving runners up and manufacturing runs was a thing that Rob Cooper’s bunch wasn’t great at all season long, but it was exactly the recipe for success in the game today.
- Losing a lead is something that often shuts a team down mentally. We’ve seen it a handful of times with this team this season, in fact. But today, that was not the case. The Nittany Lions showed incredible resiliency on offense. Every time Michigan State would chip into its lead, the offense would come back out and score an insurance run. This is the mentality and execution of a good team.
- Leadoff baserunners fueled the offense in this game. For both squads, but especially Penn State, getting leadoff men on base usually resulted in runs on the board that inning. On the flip side, you look at this game and notice how bad things get when pitchers issued too many walks or the leadoff man got on.
Penn State will play Michigan State again in the second game of a three-game series. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 1.
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About the Author
Our photographers were on hand to capture the sights of Penn State basketball’s return to Rec Hall.
Funk helped the Nittany Lions make the NCAA Tournament in 2023.
The Nittany Lions swept rival RIT to move on to the CHA Championship.