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Penn State Baseball Wins Just One Game During Opening Weekend

Penn State baseball (1-3) won just one game during its opening weekend down in Cary, North Carolina.

It was an up-and-down opening series for the Nittany Lions, as they showed flashes at the plate and on the mound. Ultimately, the Nittany Lions were only able to muster up one win against the likes of Monmouth, LIU, and Northeastern.

Game One (Monmouth)

Penn State’s season opener in Cary didn’t quite go the way the Nittany Lions had planned, as they fell to Monmouth 10-1.

After a scoreless first two frames, sophomore transfer pitcher Travis Luensmann walked in the first run in the third inning, and an error made the score 2-0. It was all downhill from there.

Luensmann surrendered a home run to Dixon Black before being pulled in the fifth. He finished with a solid debut, striking out seven batters, giving up five walks, and allowing three runs on three hits.

The next two innings were scoreless, and the Nittany Lions still remained hitless. Finally, in the eighth inning, Jay Harry broke through and broke up Trey Dombroski’s no-hitter with a base hit down the right-field line.

But, it was too little too late, as the Hawks came through with a flurry of RBI singles and a pair of sac-flies to extend their lead and ultimately seal the deal.

Matt Wood would register the Nittany Lions’ only RBI, plating Vanderbilt transfer CJ Pittaro on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the ninth.

Game Two (LIU)

After a sour start to the season and an eagerness to get into the win column, the Nittany Lions would have two chances going up against the Long Island University Sharks in a Saturday matinee doubleheader.

With a 10 a.m. start time, some weren’t even awake yet, but that wasn’t the case with the Nittany Lions’ bats. They exploded for a six-run first frame thanks to some methodical hitting, good at-bats, and savy base running.

LIU would get one run back in the top of the second, but Matt Wood snatched it right back in the bottom half by crushing a ball over the right-field wall for he and Penn State’s first home run of the season. Wood wouldn’t be finished. Again, in the fourth inning, he blasted his second home run of the season to extend Penn State’s lead to 7-1 after two.

It was Wood, once again, getting things started in the sixth inning, belting a double to right-center to drive in Pittaro who reached base via a single. The Nittany Lions would tack on three more runs for good measure, putting the score at 12-1 Penn State after six.

Penn State’s pitching was excellent in this one. Louisville transfer Kellan Tulio got the start and went five innings and only allowed one run on five hits, while also striking out four. Jaden Henline entered in relief, giving up two runs on three hits, but also striking out four and ultimately slamming the door shut on the Sharks for the final four frames to secure the 14-3 win for Penn State.

Game Three (LIU)

The bats remained alive in the second bout with LIU during the Saturday doubleheader. However, the pitching and defense wasn’t quite there as it was earlier in the afternoon. The Nittany Lions fell 11-8 to the Sharks to split the series.

In the first inning, Cole Bartels kicked things off with a lead-off single, driven in courtesy of a double by who else but Matt Wood. Spiegel drove in Wood two batters later, as the Nittany Lions would put up a five-spot in the first inning.

Penn State deployed the bullpen strategy in this one, giving the start to Mason Mellott. Mellott, Penn State’s go-to closer last season, got off to a rough start and allowed three runs on four hits, while walking three and striking out two.

The Nittany Lions were clinging on to a 6-5 lead after four when Jordan Morales would enter and allow two runs on three hits. Steven Miller couldn’t find success either, giving up four runs (three earned) on three hits. Chase Renner struggle as well, allowing two runs on one hit.

It seemed like whoever the Nittany Lions threw out there, the Sharks had an answer.

The Sharks put up five runs in the sixth, and Penn State put up two in the bottom of the inning to claw their way closer. But ultimately, the Sharks’ lead proved insurmountable.

Game Four (Northeastern)

In the final game of its opening series down south, Penn State faced the Northeastern Huskies. The Nittany Lions began the game picking up right where they left off on offense, recording three hits in the first inning. However, they obtained nothing to show for it on the scoreboard.

There was nothing at all showing on the scoreboard until the sixth inning when Northeastern’s JP Olson scored on a passed ball. There was an ensuing single and double by Michael Sirota, and Wood couldn’t hold on to the relay throw, so the Huskies took two runs in the inning to put them on top 2-0.

Wood would get his redemption, however, one inning later when he sent a ball soaring over the right-field wall to trim Penn State’s deficit to one.

Northeastern tacked on one more in the top of the eighth, and Penn State wasn’t able to answer in the bottom half. Then, things got messy.

Tanner Folds took the hill for the Nittany Lions, and immediately things didn’t look promising. Justin Bosland singled back to Folds and he couldn’t handle it. Bosland then stole second, and he would be the first one to score in a five-run ninth for the Huskies to extend their lead to 8-1. Folds ended with three earned runs, and Anthony Steele gave up one.

Ultimately, the Nittany Lions weren’t able to scrape anything up in the bottom of the ninth and fell 8-1.

Takeaways

  • Matt. Wood. After an impressive sophomore campaign, the slugger started his junior season off with a bang. He finished the weekend with three home runs, six hits, eight runs, six RBIs while batting .400 with a 1.200 slugging percentage
  • Penn State still needs to figure out its rotation. Understandably, as the the Nittany Lions lost their top-three arms to the MLB Draft last year (Bailey Dees, Conor Larkin, Kyle Virbitsky). But, it’s likely that head coach Rob Copper will keep experimenting, especially at the beginning of the season, to see what works best.
  • Penn State must play complimentary baseball if it wants to win games. Although it was only in four games, the Nittany Lions struggled to have success on both sides of the ball at the same time. Despite the clunker in the season opener, the Nittany Lions showed up for the other three games in at least one aspect or another. However, they conclude the weekend with only one win to show for it.

What’s Next

Penn State’s second series down in Cary, North Carolina will begin at 2 p.m. on Friday, February 25. It’ll be the first of four games over the weekend.

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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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