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Penn State Baseball Overcomes Rough Start To Beat Bucknell 7-6

Penn State baseball (11-15, 2-4 Big Ten) collected a season-high 16 hits in a 7-6 win over the Bucknell Bison (12-15, 8-4 Patriot League) at home Wednesday night.

A strong offensive performance, paired with a clutch bullpen effort, propelled the Nittany Lions to a narrow one-run win over the Bison. Penn State’s first four batters in the lineup led the way for the offense and combined for nine hits and four RBIs.

How It Happened

Penn State returned to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for a quick one-game homestand against Bucknell. Freshman southpaw Anthony Steele got the start for the Nittany Lions, while sophomore Bryce Reimer got the nod for the Bison.

Steele struggled right out of the gates for the Nittany Lions, allowing three runs on two hits while walking two. The big blow came off the bat of outfielder Jacob Corson, which was a two-run single to left-center field. Steele was pulled in favor of Blaise Sclafani after going just 0.2 of an inning. Sclafani walked the first three batters he faced to push two more runs across the plate.

With the Bison already leading 5-0, manager Rob Cooper elected to make a second pitching change of the first inning, as he pulled Sclafani for sophomore Carson Kohls. Kohls got a strikeout of Anthony Sherwin to finally end the inning. Penn State trailed 5-0 despite only two hits from the Bison.

Needing something offensively to try to get back in the game, the Nittany Lions got back-to-back hits from Matt Wood and Jay Harry to get a man in scoring position with less than two outs. First baseman Josh Spiegel was able to sneak a ball down the third base line to score the Nittany Lions’ first run of the game.

One batter later, Billy Gerlott plated another run on a soft grounder to short. The hit parade continued for the Nittany Lions when third baseman CJ Pittaro snuck a ball through the hole on the left side to score Gerlott, cutting the Bucknell lead to two. A long first inning finally came to an end with Bucknell leading 5-3

The Nittany Lions once again got two men into scoring position in the second inning, this time thanks to a base hit and a balk. Matt Wood’s second hit of the game drove in two, including the tying run. Wood was thrown out trying to steal second, but not before getting the big hit of the inning.

Bucknell went down quietly in its half of the third, sending the Nittany Lions back up to bat with the opportunity to take the lead. A double from Spiegel put a runner in scoring position for Penn State in the third consecutive inning. Pittaro’s second RBI of the game gave the Nittany Lions their first lead despite outhitting the Bison 9-4 at this point. After picking up his first hit of the season, catcher Tyson Cooper was thrown out trying to steal second, which ended the inning. After three innings, Penn State led 6-5.

After another scoreless frame for Bucknell, the Nittany Lions had another productive inning offensively that resulted in a run. Shortstop Jay Harry roped his second hit of the night, scoring second baseman Derek Cease to give Penn State a 7-5 lead.

Left-hander Ryan Partridge entered in relief of Kohls in the top of the fifth. The junior was pulled in favor of Mason Mellott after loading the bases and recording just one out. Mellott got a strikeout and a groundout to get out of the jam.

A triple and a double plated a run for the Bison, chasing Mellott from the game in the sixth inning. Left-hander Jordan Morales entered with no outs and got the next three hitters in order to preserve the Nittany Lions’ lead heading into the bottom of the sixth.

The Nittany Lions stranded the bases loaded in the sixth, failing to extend their lead any further.

Both teams were held scoreless in the final three innings, as the Nittany Lions held on to win by a score of 7-6. Freshman Chase Renner struck out the side in order in the ninth to complete his two hitless innings out of the bullpen.

Takeaways

  • A big first inning by both teams immediately set the tone for what turned out to be a high-scoring game. The two teams combined for eight runs in the first, with Bucknell batting around, causing manager Rob Cooper to make two pitching changes. Walks also contributed to a big inning for the Bison, as Penn State walked in two of the five Bucknell runs in the first.
  • Right-hander Carson Kohls was excellent in relief Wednesday night, pitching a career-high three 3.1 shutout innings. After entering in relief, Kohls shut down any chances the Bison had of extending their lead.
  • Matt Wood and Jay Harry both had big games at the plate for the Nittany Lions, as they knocked in a combined three runs on six hits. Both guys entered Wednesday night’s game with an average of over .290.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will go back on the road for a three-game series in Evanston against Northwestern beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Friday, April 8. All three games 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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