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Penn State Baseball Wins One In Three-Game Series Against Illinois

Penn State baseball (17-23) pulled out one win this weekend, but dropped two contests against Illinois (21-20) in a three-game series.

Despite losing the series, Gavin Homer and Johnny Piacentino had big performances at the plate throughout, while Kyle Virbitsky had a solid outing on the mound. Neither performance was good enough to earn a series win, but it did solidify that the Nittany Lions can continue to compete in the Big Ten.

Game One

Game one was a very uneventful game for the Nittany Lions. They struggled on both sides of the field, and that led them to get shut out 9-0.

Bailey Dees got the start on the mound, pitching five innings and giving up five runs on eight hits. He would only strike out two batters throughout the course of the game. Penn State would go on to use four relievers throughout the rest of the game, but the highlight was Jaden Henline’s outing. He pitched an inning of hitless baseball, and struck out a batter.

On the offensive side, the team was only able to get five hits and all of them were singles. Matt Wood had two, which was the most of any hitter for the day. Also earning a hit were Gavin Homer, Curtis Robinson, and Parker Hendershot.

Game Two

The Saturday game was a much different look for Penn State, as the offense came to life. But, it ended with the same result, as the Nittany Lions lost 14-8.

Both Homer and Johnny Piacentino had two-run home runs, and Piacentino added another RBI on a single. Both players also had doubles, but Piacentino was unable to get the triple he needed to complete the cycle. Wood and Josh Spiegel also drove some runs in, while Robinson, Hendershot, Cole Bartels, and Jay Harry were able to get a hit.

The pitching was not so great this time around. Conor Larkin got the start, but he was only able to pitch one inning. He gave up four runs on three hits and he walked four batters. Five relief pitchers were used throughout the game, and they all gave up a run except one. That was Steven Miller, who pitched 2.2 of hitless baseball and struck out five.

Game Three

The Nittany Lions finally got that win they were looking for Sunday afternoon, beating the Fighting Illini 13-4.

Kyle Virbitsky got the start on the mound, and he turned in the best pitching performance of the series. He pitched seven innings, giving up four runs on six hits and striking out eight. Mason Mellot came on in relief, pitching two innings and giving up three hits and striking out two.

The offense continued raking from the Saturday game. Robinson dominated, hitting two home runs and driving in five runs. Bartels also joined the home run party, hitting a three run shot of his own. Justin Williams had a two RBI double, and Homer, Harry, and Wood all had RBI singles. Every starter got on base in the game.

Takeaways

  • Penn State has got to get its pitching in shape. Especially when the offense is seeing the ball well like it was in Game Two, the pitching staff can’t be the reason for losing. Sometimes it just isn’t someone’s day, but the Nittany Lions can’t allow that to be a regular occurrence.
  • The road struggles continue for the Nittany Lions. The team is 5-13 on the road, compared to an 8-8 record at home. In a conference like the Big Ten, that makes it hard to stand out and compete. It remains to be seen if any adjustments can be made in the last four games of the season, but changes will need to be made regardless.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions travel to West Lafayette to take on Purdue and Minnesota for a two-game series against both teams. They will kick off the weekend by playing the Boilermakers at 6 p.m. on Friday, May 28.

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About the Author

Owen Abbey

Owen Abbey was a Secondary Education major before he graduated from the wonderful institution known as Penn State. When he was not writing for the blog, he enjoyed rooting for the Baltimore Orioles and Ravens, supporting Penn State basketball and softball, dreaming of all of the ways he would win the TV show "Survivor," and yes mom, actually doing school work. All of this work prepared him to teach his own class of students, which was always his true passion. He still can be found on Twitter @theowenabbey and can be reached for questions and comments at [email protected]

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