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Penn State Baseball Loses 11-4 In One-Game Series Against Virginia Military Institute

Penn State baseball (3-8) dropped its fourth straight game as bullpen struggles mounted in blowout loss to the Virginia Military Institute Keydets (7-5).

Will Knight and Brett Cook knocked in a game-high three RBIs each for the Keydets to hand Penn State its seventh loss in its last nine games.

How It Happened

Penn State entered Tuesday’s game against the Virginia Military Institute on a three-game losing streak after a rough series in Charlottesville against No. 5 Virginia.

Right-hander Mason Mellot got his second start of the season on the mound for the Nittany Lions. The State College native entered today’s game with an ERA north of five.

On the opposing side, freshman right-hander Caden Plummer got the start for the Virginia Military Institute.

The Nittany Lions went down quietly in their half of the first. Matt Wood hit a deep fly to the warning track, but it didn’t have enough to get out for a home run. Mellot struck out two in the bottom half of the first, sending the Nittany Lions back up to the plate in the top of the second.

Penn State couldn’t take advantage of a leadoff single by Billy Gerlott in their half of the second. The Keydets pushed home the game’s first run on a sacrifice fly from first baseman Jacob Mustain.

Second baseman Derek Cease notched his first-ever collegiate hit, a two-out double. A pair of balks by Plummer allowed Cease to score, tying the game 1-1 in the top of the third.

Following two hitless innings with four strikeouts, Mellott was replaced in favor of Tyler Shingledecker.

The left-hander struggled in his only inning of work, allowing four runs on five hits. An RBI single by outfielder Will Knight gave the Keydets a 2-1 lead before a three-run home run off the bat of Brett Cook put them up 5-1.

An inning later in the bottom of the fourth, the Keydets scored three more runs to extend their lead to 8-1. Will Knight knocked in two more runs on an RBI single, his second and third RBIs of the game.

Needing a big inning to get back in the game, Penn State first baseman Anthony Steele led off the top of the fifth with a solo home run, the first of his collegiate career, to make it an 8-2 ballgame. A leadoff single followed by a fielder’s choice and a wild pitch saw Josh Spiegel standing on third with two outs and Cole Bartels at the plate. A fielding error by the third baseman allowed Bartels to reach first and Spiegel to score, cutting the Keydets lead to five.

After a pair of scoreless half innings by each team, the Keydets opened up the bottom of the sixth with a walk and a single to put two runners on with no outs. A wild pitch by Patrick DeMarco scored a run to put the Keydets back up six. DeMarco’s struggles in the bottom of sixth continued as sophomore infielder Jed Barrett plated two more runs for the Keydets on an RBI double.

With the Keydets now up 11-3, left-hander Ryan Partridge came in from the bullpen to replace the struggling DeMarco. Partridge got two quick outs on a strikeout and a flyout to end the sixth.

For the second time in the game, Penn State led off an inning with a home run, this time by catcher Josh Spiegel. His first of the season made it an 11-4 game in the top of the seventh.

Both offenses went quiet in the final innings as the game ended with a lopsided final 11-4 score in favor of the Keydets.

Takeaways

  • Penn State’s struggles on the mound from its series against Vriginia continued against VMI. After starting pitcher Mason Mellott got pulled after two solid innings, the bullpen stuggled and allowed 11 runs. The Nittany Lions used a total of seven pitchers in relief on the loss.
  • Despite scoring a respectable four runs, the Nittany Lions struggled to get on base throughout the game. Penn State walked just once while recording just three extra-base hits. While the Nittany Lions did hit two home runs, they were both solo shots due to the team’s struggles to get men on base and to create RBI opportunites for the middle of the order.
  • Across the last four games the Nittany Lions have been outscored 44-10. While scoring only 10 runs across four games is alarming, nothing is more troubling than allowing an astonishing 44 runs across a four-game stretch. Ever since the series win against Maine back in late February, Penn State’s pitching staff has struggled to give the team a chance to win.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will return to Cary, North Carolina, for a three-game weekend series against UMass beginning on Friday, March 11. First pitch is set for 2 p.m.

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About the Author

Devon Craley

Devon is a junior studying sports journalism. He has the genuine misfortune of being a Philadelphia sports fan...IYKYK. Send your hot takes and preferably your freezing cold takes on Twitter to @devon3134. Devon is also your friendly, neighborhood State College movie nerd.

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