Penn State Baseball Continues Strong Start To Season With Undefeated Homestand
It doesn’t snow much in Florida.
Penn State baseball was acutely aware of this fact when it took the field in its frosty home opener against Georgetown over the weekend, in stark contrast to its season opener in Miami. Head coach Rob Cooper joked that he regretted losing 30 pounds in the offseason, while the cold was a caveat to several players’ excitement to be in State College.
“I like being home,” shortstop Jay Harry said after the second win. “[It’s] definitely a little colder, but it’s a fun atmosphere, especially with all the people that come out.”
The team’s 2023 debut at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park was delayed due to a pair of rainouts. The Nittany Lions impressed on both sides of the ball when they finally got a chance to play.
Cooper sent five pitchers to the mound against the Hoyas, none of whom gave up more than one run or three hits. Georgetown wasn’t able to do the same, allowing 19 total hits across the two games.
Penn State wasn’t reliant on one or two hitters, either. Every player in the starting lineup reached base in the series opener.
“We’re very unselfish players. We have very unselfish at-bats, and we just do what we can to score runs,” Harry said after Sunday’s win.
Penn State’s success, according to Cooper, is fueled in part by fierce competition for roster spots. Since there isn’t much of a talent gap between starters and bench players, each player wants to make an impression.
“It’s a tough lineup to get through, and it’s tough because they won’t give in,” Cooper said.
The 10th-year Nittany Lion head coach also has the benefit of working with players who have been around the program and believes that their experience is critical for sustained winning.
“A lot of it is the fortune of [having] a lot of three-year, four-year guys that have been through it and understand the game,” Cooper said. “It’s not giving in on the inning when there are two outs and nobody on, [it’s] being a good two-out team and a good two-strike team. It’s just a mindset, and they work at it.”
That mindset, and Penn State’s win streak, continued after the weekend. The Nittany Lions dominated Binghamton on Dollar Dog Night by a score of 15-1. That type of crowded box score is exactly what Cooper wants from his team.
Cooper said he has “grinders” in his lineup, and he expects his team to continue the consistency at the plate.
Penn State is hot heading into its Big Ten opener at Michigan, but Cooper wants to take things one game at a time.
“I think if we just keep approaching it the way we do, then yeah, we’ve got momentum, but you’re only as good as your last game…it doesn’t mean a thing once you start the next game,” he said.
Win or lose, Cooper will continue to focus on his roster and stick to the game plan. His team has lept out to one of its best starts in years.
“We have to worry about ourselves…what do we need to do to get better, and just keep playing a faceless opponent,” he said.
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