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Penn State Baseball Cruises Past Rutgers In 7-3 Victory

Penn State baseball began a four-game series against Rutgers on a high note with a 7-3 victory over the Scarlet Knights Friday afternoon.

Aside from an error that ultimately resulted in one of the Scarlet Knights’ three runs, the Nittany Lions played clean and sound team baseball on both sides of the field.

How It Happened

The game began with two strikeouts and a groundout for Penn State starter Bailey Dees. He added two more strikeouts next inning to go along with a forced fly-out.

Justin Williams got the scoring started, smoking a laser over the left-field wall to lead off the inning, putting the Nittany Lions up 1-0. Johnny Piacentino and Curtis Robison both proceeded to sneak bloop singles into left field, keeping the inning alive for Jay Harry, who himself snuck a ball just inside the third base line for a two-RBI double, extending the Nittany Lions’ lead to 3-0.

Harry would then come around to score through a single off the bat of Tayven Kelley. Up 4-0, Penn State’s Matt Wood got in on the action, ripping a base hit up the middle and plating Gavin Homer, who reached base on a walk. Wood got caught in a rundown to halt the offense’s momentum and subsequently end the inning.

After two, the Nittany Lions led 5-0, and Rutgers didn’t do any damage in the bottom half thanks to Dees’ fifth strikeout and Williams’ flashy glove at third base. Both Rutgers and Penn State went three up, three down in the third. 

The Scarlet Knights recorded their first hit in the top of the fourth inning, which is also where they’d plate their first run. With two outs, Dees surrendered his first hit of the game to Chris Brito, knocking home Ryan Lasko, who reached base courtesy of an error at shortstop.

Penn State sent two balls to the warning track in the bottom of the fourth but wasn’t able to extend its lead any further. Rutgers, on the other hand, inched closer in the top of the fifth. Josh Rodriguez forced a leadoff walk, and following a single to left off the bat of Peter Serruto and two fielder’s choices, Rodriguez came around to score to put the score at 5-2.

Penn State came up empty on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the inning, despite a couple of baserunners, allowing Rutgers to creep even closer in the sixth. Danny DiGeorgio doubled to left-center, and Evan Sleight put the ball deep enough in the outfield to advance him to third. Brito recorded his second RBI of the afternoon, grounding out to the pitcher yet still plating a run in the process bringing Rutgers within two.

The score was 5-3 entering the bottom of the sixth, yet Penn State found itself on the scoreboard again. Josh Spiegel swung at the first pitch he saw and left no doubt about it, sending it high over the centerfield wall to put Penn State up 6-3.

Mason Mellott entered in relief for the Nittany Lions in the top of the seventh, recording two strikeouts and keeping Rutgers in its place. The Nittany Lions went down in order in the bottom half of the inning, and outside of a baserunner via an error, Rutgers would follow suit in the top of the eighth.

Williams and Spiegel collaborated in the bottom of the eighth, each doubling with Williams knocking home Spiegel to add to the Nittany Lions’ cushion. With the 7-3 lead, Mellott retired the Scarlet Knights one-two-three, officially slamming the door shut in the top of the ninth.

Takeaways

  • Penn State got off to a great start and bent, perhaps, but didn’t break. After playing catch-up in most of their last series against Iowa, the Nittany Lions made sure that it got this series started off on the right foot, keeping theirs on the gas for the entirety of the game against Rutgers.
  • Josh Spiegel and Justin Williams stole the show. After the freshman, Spiegel, started off the season scorching hot with three home runs in the team’s opening series against Northwestern, he cooled off significantly. Today, Spiegel sent an arching no-doubter over the center-field wall for his first home run since. The sophomore, Justin Williams seems to have Rutgers ace Harry Rutkowski’s number, belting a home run of his own making it his second off of the lefty this year. He first homered off of Rutkowski in the team’s April 2 matchup, one in which the Nittany Lions won 1-0.
  • Bailey Dees gave the Nittany Lions a lot of room to breathe at the beginning of the game, allowing them to pounce on top and Mason Mellott sealed the deal. Dees didn’t allow a hit until the top of the fourth inning and had a final line of six innings pitched, striking out five and surrendering only five hits. Mellott was dominant en route to his third save of the season, pitching the final three frames, striking out two, and allowing nor a run or a hit. Dees improved his record to a winning 4-3, and Mellott secured his third save of the season.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park tomorrow for the second game of the four-matchup series against Rutgers. The first pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.

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About the Author

Zach Donaldson

Zach is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer for Onward State and serves as an editor for Penn State’s CommRadio. He hails from Downingtown, Pa., or in other words "just outside of Philly." When he's not watching or ranting about Philly sports, you can probably find him at the gym. If you like sports tweets, follow him on Twitter @zachdonaldson_ and all inquiries can go to [email protected].

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