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Penn State Baseball Earns 3-2 Walk-Off Win Over St. Bonaventure

Penn State baseball (9-13, 1-2 Big Ten) was able to overcome a bad night at the plate and beat St. Bonaventure (0-15) 3-2 in the final game of a lengthy homestand.

Nittany Lion pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts in a much-needed rebound performance to pick up a big win before hitting the road for another Big Ten series. Shortstop Jay Harry reached base twice and added two RBIs, including the game-winner, to lead Penn State’s offense.

How It Happened

The Nittany Lions took the field on Wednesday night against the winless St. Bonaventure Bonnies for the first time since getting blown out by Rutgers on Sunday. Southpaw Kellan Tulio got the start for Penn State while redshirt sophomore Tripp Breen got the start for St. Bonaventure.

After a perfect first for Tulio, the Nittany Lions’ bats went to work in the bottom of the first to take the early lead. Back-to-back walks by Matt Wood and Cole Bartels put a man into scoring position for shortstop Jay Harry. A two-out double down the right-field line from Harry scored Wood to give the Nittany Lions an early 1-0 lead. A strikeout of Tayvon Kelley ended the inning, stranding two in scoring position.

Sophomore Tommy Molsky entered the game in relief of Tulio to begin the top of the second. The right-hander retired the side in order.

The Nittany Lions threatened once again in the second as Ben Kailher drew a leadoff walk and advanced to second on a balk. A throwing error by first baseman Matthew Williams allowed Kailher to score and Pittaro to reach first. A successful sacrifice bunt from catcher Tyson Cooper advanced Pittaro to third with just one out and the top of the lineup coming to bat. Back-to-back outs including a strikeout of Johnny Piacentinto stranded Pittaro on third. After two, the Nittany Lions led 2-0.

After a couple of well-pitched innings from both sides, Penn State still led 2-0 despite having only two hits. The Bonnies, who struck out seven times through four innings, were still looking for their first hit entering the fifth inning.

Penn State’s no-hit bid ended with a leadoff single to left by cleanup hitter Danny Manion off of Penn State right-hander Carson Kohls. A successful sacrifice bunt advanced Manion into scoring position with less than two outs. Jagger Nucci’s triple to deep left-center scored Manion to cut Penn State’s lead to 2-1.

Both teams had tapped into their bullpen at this point in the game as the Bonnies went with a new arm to open the bottom of the fifth. St. Bonaventure starter Tripp Breen went four innings, allowing two runs on two hits while striking out five.

For the second straight inning, the Bonnies got the leadoff man on via a single, this time from freshman Luke Roggenburk off of Penn State righty Seneca Gregory. Another sac bunt advanced Roggenburk to second, but that’s as far as he would get as Gregory got the next two batters to retire the side. The Nittany Lions led 2-1 entering their half of the sixth.

The Bonnies used a big top of the seventh against left-hander Ryan Partridge to tie the game at two. St. Bonaventure could have extended the inning and possibly taken the lead If not for a baserunning blunder by Jagger Nucci that resulted in an out at home.

An empty inning by both sides in the eighth sent the game to the ninth tied 2-2.

Freshman Chase Renner pitched himself out of a jam in the ninth to keep the game tied heading into the bottom of the ninth for a chance to walk off the Bonnies.

Second baseman Ben Kailher represented the winning run after reaching second thanks to a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt by Jake Cooper. Pinch hitter Josh Spiegel walked to put two runners on with one out. The inning ended after Kailher was doubled up on a line drive to centerfield off the bat of Billy Gerlott.

The Bonnies went down quietly in their half of the 10th, once again giving the Nittany Lions a chance to win by scoring just one run. Back-to-back hits from Wood and Bartels put the winning run in scoring position for the Nittany Lions. Jay Harry ripped his second hit of the night down the right-field line to score Wood from second, giving Penn State the 3-2 victory.

Takeaways

  • The pitching staff had a nice change of pace on Wednesday. Manager Rob Cooper still employed his “pitcher by committee” approach, as the Nittany Lions used a total of seven pitchers in the win. After struggling in recent games, Penn State’s arms were nearly untouchable for a better part of the game against a lowly Bonnies lineup.
  • After striking out a staggering 34 times in two games against Valpo, St. Bonaventure entered Wednesday’s game with a great chance to help the Nittany Lions find their groove on the mound. The Bonnies struck out 12 times on Wednesday night and didn’t record a hit until the fifth inning.
  • It seemed as if two runs in the first two innings would lead to a big offensive onslaught by the Nittany Lions ,but that’s not the way it unfolded. Penn State recorded just five hits after the fifth inning. If not for the bullpen, the bats could’ve very well lost this game for the Nittany Lions.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will travel to College Park, Maryland, for a three-game series against the Terrapins. Game one is set for 6.30 p.m. on Friday, April 1, 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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