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Penn State Baseball Falls 15-5 To No. 14 North Carolina

Penn State baseball (7-4) fell 15-5 to No. 14 North Carolina (11-3) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, on Wednesday afternoon.

After the Nittany Lions secured a 3-1 lead in the second inning, the Tar Heels scored seven runs in the fourth inning and never looked back. North Carolina’s bats continued to erupt en route to a dominating 15-5 win over the Nittany Lions through the tail end of the game.

How It Happened

After retiring Penn State’s first three batters in the top of the first inning, North Carolina attacked starting pitcher Steven Miller early. With two outs in the inning, Tomas Frick came up to bat and drilled a solo home run, and gave the Tar Heels a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning.

Penn State responded in the top of the second inning by scoring three runs. The Nittany Lions got two runners on base, which Thomas Bramley capitalized on by hitting an RBI single and scoring Tayven Kelley to tie the game 1-1. Then, Bobby Marsh hit an RBI to score Jay Harry, giving Penn State a 2-1 lead.

North Carolina removed starting pitcher Will Sandy from the game after Marsh’s RBI and replaced him with Matt Poston. However, Poston struggled with his control and threw a wild pitch that scored Bramley to give Penn State a 3-1 lead in the top of the second inning.

The bottom of the inning and the entire third inning were scoreless. Penn State didn’t score in the fourth inning, either.

With Miller still on the mound for Penn State in the bottom of the fourth inning, the Tar Heels’ lineup had evidently seen enough to know how to rough him up. North Carolina put two runners on base, providing Casey Cook with a good opportunity to generate runs. Cook singled to right field, scoring one runner and sending another to second base to cut the lead to 3-2. Then, Patrick Alvarez’s single to left field tied the game 3-3 and kept runners in scoring position.

After Alvarez’s single, things got uglier for Penn State. Vance Honeycutt doubled, scoring Cook and loading the bases for Frick to make it 4-3. Given the high-leverage situation, manager Rob Cooper benched Miller in favor of Jaden Henline. Henline’s outing wasn’t any smoother, as Frick launched a grand slam to give North Carolina a commanding 9-3 lead to end the fourth inning.

Penn State got one back in the fifth inning when Billy Gerlott homered to left field to make it 9-4. North Carolina answered by putting runners in scoring position, scoring another run against Henline to make it 10-4 as Mac Horvath hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the fifth inning.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, the Tar Heels’ bats erupted once again. With runners on first and third bases, Hunter Stokely launched a three-run homer to right field to make it 13-4. Cook was hit by a pitch from Henline, putting him on first base. Cooper stormed out of the dugout after the play and got into a heated argument with the umpires, who ejected him from the game.

In the top of the seventh inning, Kyle Hannon hit a line drive that bounced off the wall. It was reviewed for a possible home run, but the play was ruled a ground-rule double. Gerlott hit an RBI single later in the inning, so Hannon scored to make it 13-5 nonetheless.

After both teams went scoreless in the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth innings, North Carolina loaded the bases against Blaise Sclafani in the bottom of the eighth. Penn State nearly pulled off a 6-4-3 double play, but Alberto Osuna scored to make it 14-5. Johnny Castagnozzi scored one play later to make it 15-5, and both runs came on fielder’s choice plays.

In the top of the ninth inning, Will Simmons entered the game to close it out. The Tar Heels retired the side in order with ease, handing the Nittany Lions a 15-5 loss for their fourth of the season.

Takeaways:

  • It was a tough game for an under-matched Penn State team. The Nittany Lions were held to their second-fewest runs all season so far, while the Tar Heels’ 15 runs matched their season-most.
  • Penn State’s pitching suffered tremendously today, allowing more runs than any other game so far this season.

What’s Next?

Penn State will head to Cary, North Carolina, to face Brown in a four-game series. Game one is at 2 p.m. on Friday, March 10. Games two and three are set for Saturday, March 11, and game three will be held on Sunday, March 12.

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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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