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Penn State Baseball Upsets Iowa 5-2 In Opening Round Of Big Ten Tournament

No. 6-seeded Penn State baseball (26-27 overall, 12-13 Big Ten) defeated No. 3-seeded Iowa (33-18 overall, 17-8 Big Ten) 5-2 for the program’s first tournament victory since 2008.

The matchup was dominated by solid pitching, as the teams combined for 32 strikeouts. Penn State first scored on a two-run single from Anthony Steele, then gained an even bigger lead thanks to a Matt Wood bomb. There were numerous times when Iowa almost came back, but Penn State’s pitching ultimately did its job and picked up the victory.

How It Happened

Penn State head coach Rob Cooper opted to start Tyler Shingledecker on the mound. Shingledecker, who has predominately been used as a reliever, posted a 3.28 ERA with 52 strikeouts over 46.2 innings in the regular season.

Meanwhile, Iowa sent Big Ten Pitcher of the Year Adam Mazur to the mound. Mazur posted a 3.05 ERA with a whopping 90 strikeouts over 88.2 innings pitched.

Mazur’s dominance was evident from the start, as he had no problems getting through the top of the first inning, striking out two in the process. However, Shingledecker’s bottom half of the inning rivaled Mazur’s. Shingledecker struck out the first two batters, then right fielder Billy Gerlott saved the inning by making a catch at the wall to retire the side.

It looked as if Mazur remained dominant in the top of the second inning, mowing down the first two batters. However, Mazur walked Gerlott and allowed a hit to center fielder Johnny Piacentino to put two runners on. Mazur and the Hawkeyes ultimately prevented any further damage, as third baseman Kyle Hannon grounded out to first base.

Meanwhile, Shingledecker pitched a second solid inning with three up and three down in the second inning.

In the third inning, things were different. Penn State’s bats took advantage of Mazur and the Iowa defense by loading the bases with just one out. Designated hitter and All-Big Ten freshman team selection Anthony Steele drove in two runs with a single to right field to make it 2-0 Penn State. It was the first time either pitcher showed vulnerability.

In the bottom of the third inning, it became clear that the brief pitcher’s duel was no more. Iowa pressured Shingledecker and cut the lead to 2-1 with a sacrifice fly. However, Shingledecker and the Nittany Lions avoided further damage.

Throughout the next two innings, both pitchers controlled the game, as neither offense could get anything going.

In the top of the sixth inning, Penn State threatened again. With two runners on base, catcher and Big Ten first-team selection Matt Wood came up to the plate. Wood took a big swing and sent the ball soaring over the right-field wall, sending the Penn State dugout and bullpen into a frenzy for a three-run bomb to take a 5-1 lead for the Nittany Lions.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Shingledecker was replaced by Travis Luensmann. Luensmann didn’t start off so well, though. With two outs, a ball that went by first baseman Josh Spiegel gave Iowa another run to make the score 5-2. However, Luensmann rebounded with a huge strikeout to end the inning.

Fast-forward to the eighth inning, and Iowa’s weaknesses showed once again. Pitcher Duncan Davitt, who replaced Mazer in the fifth inning, loaded the bases, which prompted Iowa head coach Rick Heller to replace him with Ben Beutel. Beutel did his job, though, and got Iowa out of what could’ve been a disastrous inning for the Hawkeyes.

Penn State got nothing going in the top of the ninth inning, so it was up to Luensmann to close out the victory. Luensmann struck out his first two batters, then a pop fly to center field sealed the deal on a 5-2 upset victory over Iowa, and Penn State’s first Big Ten Tournament victory since 2008.

Takeaways

  • Both starting pitchers were phenomenal. Shingledecker allowed two runs with eight strikeouts over six innings, while Mazur allowed two runs with eight strikeouts over five innings.
  • Take a bow, Matt Wood! The standout catcher is the first Penn State player to drive in at least three runs in a Big Ten Tournament game since 2008.
  • How about a solid performance from Travis Luensmann? Luensmann struck out seven batters over 3.1 innings to guide Penn State to the victory after coming on in relief for Shingledecker.

What’s Next

Penn State will play Rutgers at approximately 2 p.m. on Friday, May 27. You can catch the game live on the Big Ten Network.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a sophomore majoring in journalism. From the Maryland side of the D.C. suburbs, Nolan likes using Old Bay and is a diehard Washington sports fan, which isn't fun these days. If you want to keep in touch with Nolan, follow him on Instagram @_nolanwick or on Twitter @nolan_wick.

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