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Hot Bats Guide Penn State Baseball To First Conference Series Win Of Season

Entering Saturday’s series finale, Penn State baseball had the opportunity to do something that it hadn’t done since May 17 of last season — win a series over a Big Ten opponent.

Backed by a strong start from right-hander Travis Luensmann and a career game from Josh Spiegel, the Nittany Lions beat Purdue 7-5 to capture that first conference series win of the season. Perhaps the biggest story from the weekend was a resurgent Penn State offense that combined to score 24 runs in the series. The Nittany Lions scored five or more runs in each game of the three games, including a 12-run outburst in game one on Thursday.

Catcher Matt Wood continued his star-studded season, as his .412 batting average ranks atop the Big Ten. Wood also sits in the conference’s top five in on-base percentage (.482), slugging percentage (.675), and OPS (1.157).

“We’re swinging and seeing the ball well,” Wood said. “It brings you comfort and makes you want to perform well and get a lot of runs.”

Heading into Saturday’s series finale, it was the third time this season the Nittany Lions entered the final game of a three-game series against a Big Ten opponent with the opportunity to win the series. Prior to Saturday, Penn State owned an 0-3 record in Big Ten rubber matches this season.

While some of the blame can be placed on the team’s handling of the pitching staff, a large part of the team’s failure to close out a series has been due to the lack of offensive production. The Nittany Lions were outscored by a staggering 22 runs across those three games.

The change in fortunes this weekend was in large put due to the continued success of Spiegel. The redshirt junior has been on fire in his last 10 games, driving in 12 runs on 10 hits. He knocked in seven runs in the series win over Purdue, including four in the series finale. Spiegel’s 4-for-4 game on Saturday raised his batting average by nearly 30 points, all the way up to .296.

Shortstop Jay Harry also added a big insurance run with a solo home run, his fourth of the season, to lead off the bottom of the seventh inning. Manager Rob Cooper says strong at-bats like that are going to keep Penn State in games as the season winds down.

“Matt Wood coming up, then Harry and Spiegel,” Cooper said. “Then, the other part of it, too, is the back end of the lineup, whether it was CJ [Pittaro] or Tyson [Cooper]. Those guys did a good job of extending our lineup as well.”

The Nittany Lions will carry their hot bats into their game against Mount St. Mary’s at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 20. Penn State will then hit to road to continue its conference schedule for a three-game series beginning on Friday, April 22, against the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

Penn State will have every opportunity to stay hot against a below-average Minnesota pitching staff. The Golden Gophers have just one pitcher on their roster who owns a sub-4.00 ERA (minimum 10 appearances). Minnesota is 10-23 on the season and is riding a three-game losing streak.

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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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