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Penn State Baseball Tops Milwaukee 6-4 To Open Home Slate

Penn State baseball (6-9) defeated Milwaukee (5-7) in its first home game of the season at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Nittany Lions’ 6-4 win was the first matchup of a three-game series.

Penn State started off strong, blew a lead, and later rallied from behind to defeat the Panthers 6-4. Three hits and two RBIs from catcher Matt Wood helped the Nittany Lions begin their homestand on a high note.

How It Happened

Following multiple cancellations due to field conditions, Penn State’s grounds crew finally prepared the playing surface to get the home season underway.

Travis Luensmann was on the mound to open the series for Penn State. Luensmann, a sophomore right-hander who transferred from South Carolina, had posted a 5.95 ERA so far this season. In his most recent start, Luensmann pitched 4.2 innings with six strikeouts in a win against UMass on March 11.

Luensmann and the Nittany Lions had no trouble thanks to a one-two-three top half of the first inning. Next, Riley Frey and the Panthers took the field. After getting walked, Penn State’s Wood took second and third base on back-to-back wild pitches, his first two of the season.

Frey continued to struggle despite having two outs, walking two more batters to load the bases. Cole Bartels hit a pop-up to center field that Milwaukee took care of, bailing the Panthers out to end the first inning.

The top half of the second inning wasn’t as easy, as Luensmann allowed two runners on base. The Nittany Lions still managed to keep the game scoreless. Outfielder Tayven Kelley got Penn State’s first hit of the game to put a second runner on base. Then, Wood hit a deep fly into center that bounced off Luke Seidel, scoring Kelley and Jay Harry. The inning ended with a 2-0 lead for Penn State.

Following another scoreless inning, Milwaukee got on board. Nate DeYoung hit a ball up the middle that dropped for a single, sending Mitchell Buban home. It was 2-1 in the top of the fourth.

One inning later, Milwaukee tied the game. Buban mashed a ball deep to left field that landed on the warning track. One runner scored as Buban got to third base with a triple. Buban crossed home on the next pitch to make it a 3-2 Milwaukee ballgame.

Following another Milwaukee hit up the middle, Penn State coach Rob Cooper signaled for Tyler Shingledecker out from the bullpen, ending a decent performance for Luensmann. Shingledecker immediately allowed a bloop single into shallow left field, making it 4-2 Milwaukee in the fifth inning before Penn State finally got off the field.

In the seventh inning, Penn State climbed back into the game. Kyle Hannon hit an RBI single up the middle, making it 4-3 with Milwaukee still in front. With the bases loaded, Penn State’s Cole Bartels mashed a pitch up the middle to send Wood home to tie the ballgame. But then, a crazy turn of events took place. Milwaukee catcher Jack Thelen overthrew Ryan Hoerter on the mound, and Penn State capitalized by stealing home. Just like that, the Nittany Lions were ahead 5-4 in the seventh inning.

Following another scoreless inning at the plate for Milwaukee, the Nittany Lions tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Johnny Piacentino hit a line drive deep to left field, sending home Jay Harry to put Penn State up 6-4.

The Nittany Lions easily took care of business in the ninth inning to complete a home-opening win.

Takeaways

  • Travis Luensmann started off strong but had a few hiccups later in his performance. He was scoreless through the first three innings but then allowed four earned runs despite striking out six batters. Still, Luensmann’s performance is likely a sign of good things to come for a struggling pitching staff.
  • Penn State capitalized on Milwaukee’s mistakes. Not only did the Nittany Lions score when Hoerter was overthrown after a pitch, but Wood stole two bases after consecutive wild pitches. Those types of plays allowed the Nittany Lions to score more runs, especially if the production at the plate is lacking.
  • Wood was simply amazing in the home opener. He went 3-for-3 with 2 RBIs, a run scored, and a triple. He will be a big bright spot this season for Penn State this season if his play keeps up.

What’s Next?

Penn State will face Milwaukee again at 1 p.m. on Saturday, March 19, for game two of a three-matchup series.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which can be both difficult and rewarding. If you want to debate anything about sports with him, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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