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Penn State Baseball Drops Rubber Match To Rutgers 20-6

Penn State baseball (8-13, 1-2 Big Ten) was unable to overcome an early deficit and bullpen collapse in a 20-6 loss to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (16-6, 2-1 Big Ten) Saturday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Big games from Ryan Lasko and Tony Santa Maria led a Rutgers offense that totaled 25 hits in the win and had four batters with four hits. The Nittany Lions once again failed to get consistent innings from their pitching staff and used a total of nine pitchers.

How It Happened

Penn State elected to start freshman Chase Renner in Saturday’s rubber match against Rutgers. Nathan Florence got the start for the Scarlet Knights.

The Rutgers’ bats got off to a hot start against Renner with two runs in the first. Evan Sleight knocked in a pair of runs with a single up the middle, and a couple of batters later, outfielder Garrett Callaghan knocked an RBI single to right-center to give Rutgers a 3-0 lead.

Left-hander Jordan Morales came on in relief of Renner in the top of the second. With one out in the second, sophomore Ryan Lasko took Morales deep for his second home run of the season. A double to left-center, an error, and a single up the middle scored another run for Rutgers, putting the Scarlet Knights up 5-0.

After a few innings of scoreless baseball, Rutgers knocked in two more runs thanks to a single from sophomore Tony Santa Maria. Midway through the fourth, the Scarlet Knights led 7-0.

It took longer than they would’ve liked, but the Nittany Lions finally got their first hit of the game on a two-out single to right-center from catcher Matt Wood in the fourth inning. A strikeout of Josh Spiegel stranded Wood on first with Penn State still down seven.

The Rutgers bats got right back to work in the top of the fifth. Singles by Jordan Sweeney, Lasko, and Richie Schiekofer scored another run for the Scarlet Knights, making it an 8-0 game.

Everything started to unravel for Penn State pitcher Seneca Gregory in the top of the fifth, as a wild pitch and an infield single by Santa Maria scored three more runs to push Rutgers’ lead to 11-0.

Penn State finally got some consistent offense in the bottom half of the fifth. A leadoff single from Jay Harry, a walk by Tayven Kelley, and a passed ball put two men in scoring position. Sophomore CJ Pittaro ripped a two-out base hit to center, scoring two and ending Florence’s shutout bid.

Following a walk, Johnny Piacentino hit a long two-run triple to right field. Matt Wood singled for his second hit of the game and scored Piacentino to cut the Rutgers lead to 11-5.

The Penn State bats continued to get men on base and push runs across with another productive inning in the sixth. After Bartels reached on an error, Kelley and Ben Kailher reached base via a fielder’s choice and a walk, respectively, loading the bases. Pittaro hit a swinging bunt to score a run, but that’s all the Nittany Lions would get. After six, the Rutgers lead had been trimmed to 11-6.

After nearly three innings of solid work, Penn State’s Carson Kohls was removed in favor of Anthony Steele. A single by Nick Cimillo, his fourth hit of the game, knocked in another run for Rutgers, pushing its lead back to six.

Rutgers would add a staggering eight more runs in the top of the ninth to make it a 20-6 game. A full-on collapse by Steele and Chad Rogers in relief sunk any hopes Penn State had of a comeback.

Takeaways

  • Pitching was once again a storyline for Penn State in Saturday’s loss. No Nittany Lion pitcher lasted more than three innings. Starting pitcher Chase Renner went just one inning while allowing three earned runs on five hits. Sophomore right-hander Carson Kohls was the lone bright spot on the mound for the Nittany Lions, pitching 2.2 innings of shutout baseball.
  • The Nittany Lions used a five-run fifth inning to make it a bit of a game. RBI’s from Piacentino, Wood, and Pittaro trimmed the Scarlet Knights’ lead to six while chasing starter Nathan Florence from the game.
  • While Penn State only committed one official error, the defense on Saturday was poor. Overthrows and wild pitches allowed Rutgers to advance to the next base multiple times. A dropped pop fly in foul territory by third baseman CJ Pittaro and a misplay in left by Tayven Kelley were the highlights of a lackluster game in the field for the Nittany Lions.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will host the Pittsburgh Panthers on Tuesday, March 29. First pitch is set for 6 p.m. and will be available for streaming on BTN+.

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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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