Penn State Baseball Falls To Illinois 7-3 In Extra Innings
Penn State baseball (25-26, 11-12 Big Ten) fell to Illinois (30-20, 16-7 Big Ten) 7-3 in its second to last regular-season game.
The Nittany Lions held their own against the Illini for nine innings, but a 10th inning collapse ultimately saw them drop their second game of a three-game series.
How It Happened
While neither team reached home plate in the first inning, Illinois started the scoring in the second, as Kellen Sarver scored on a single from Brody Harding with two outs. Harding advanced to second after a failed throw to home to pick off Sarver, and Harding advanced to second and received the benefit of a narrow safe call.
Penn State benefited from its own two-out situation in the bottom of the second inning, as a well-hit ball from Kyle Hannon remained just fair and his double allowed Billy Gerlott to race around from first base to home plate and tie the game.
Matt Wood nearly put Penn State up at the end of the third inning, as his deep fly ball to center field came just short of going over the wall. Instead, Josh Spiegel gave the Nittany Lions their first lead with his home run in the fourth inning putting them up 2-1.
Disaster struck Penn State in the top of the fifth inning. With two outs from the first two batters of the inning, the Nittany Lion defense felt confident in its ability to close out the inning. However, a single and a walk put Indiana on first and second base, and a fielder’s error by Derek Cease at second base allowed for Danny Doligale to score an unearned run and tie the game. Another error from Hannon at third base sent Branden Comia home for a 3-2 lead.
Both teams suffered a multi-inning scoring drought, but Penn State looked ready to retake the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning. Two singles, a balk, and an intentional walk to Gerlott gave the Nittany Lions loaded bases with just one out as Johnny Piacentino stepped up to the plate. Piacentino grounded out to shortstop, but Wood was able to score the tying run. Wood’s trot to the plate would be the only score for Penn State, as Hannon struck out to end the inning.
Cole Bartels made a stunning grab to avoid giving the lead to the Illini in the top of the ninth. As Wood drifted towards the dugout to catch a pop fly, Bartels was able to correctly read the ball in the air as he dove back into fair territory to make the catch as the Illinois runners attempted to round the bases on the inning’s final out.
Nine innings wasn’t enough to find a winner, but Illinois decided that 10 innings would be. Before Penn State got a single runner out, Illinois had scored twice and put a runner on third base. A wild pitch from Mason Mellott allowed Cam McDonald to give his team a 6-3 lead, and a solo home run from Harding added on. Penn State failed to get a single runner on base in the bottom of the 10th, as they fell 7-3 to the Illini.
- After a difficult blowout against the Illini, Penn State recovered well. While the final score didn’t go the way of the Nittany Lions, they showed a definite fight through nine innings.
- A win on Saturday will be crucial for the Nittany Lions. Illinois may be a tough opponent, but Penn State will not want to suffer a sweep ahead of its first Big Ten tournament since 2012.
- The Nittany Lions had more errors than runs. They gave up four errors while only reaching home plate three times. There isn’t much else to say except “ouch.”
Penn State plays its final game of the regular season against Illinois at 10 a.m. on Sunday, May 21 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The game will air on B1G+.
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About the Author
Nittany Lions old and new have received new jersey numbers ahead of the 2022 season.