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Penn State Baseball Suffers Series Sweep By Rutgers

By Matt Brown and Nolan Wick

Penn State baseball (24-18, 6-11 Big Ten) suffered a three-game series sweep by Rutgers over the weekend.

None of the three games were close and it proved to be a brutal outing as the Nittany Lions lost 8-1 on Friday, 10-0 on Saturday, and 8-2 on Sunday, respectively.

How It Happened

Game One

Rutgers got on the board early in the second inning of the opening game by way of a Jordan Sweeney leadoff triple to left-center field. Cameron Love brought Sweeney home two batters later and added a point to the Scarlet Knights’ scoreboard.

Two innings later, pitcher Jordan Morales faced more trouble. A two-out single and double by the Scarlet Knights put two runners in scoring position. Both runners came home thanks to a single to right field by Ryan Lasko. Morales finished the inning but was later pulled out and replaced by Tommy Molsky.

The Nittany Lions’ offense was no help at all as they didn’t record their first hit until the sixth inning. Kyle Hannon smacked a single up the middle, however, Penn State couldn’t capitalize on it.

Unfortunately for Molksky, Rutgers blew the game open in the bottom of the sixth inning. Three straight hits to start the inning for Rutgers brought in another run and, after Lasko was intentionally walked to load the bases, Chris Brito didn’t miss his pitch. He smoked a grand slam to left center to leave no room for a Penn State comeback and establish an 8-0 lead for Rutgers.

Penn State got a run back in the top of the seventh inning after doubles by Jay Harry and Johnny Piacentino, however, all it settled for was one run. The Nittany Lions went down without a fight in the eighth and the ninth innings and fell to Rutgers 8-1.

Game Two

Nittany Lion Jaden Henline got the call to start game two of the series from the mound.

Henline, who has been one of the more reliable pitchers for the Nittany Lions all season, pitched an ugly showing to begin the second game. Things got bad for the junior right away with two early singles and a fielding error loading the bases in the bottom of the first inning.

Rutgers took advantage and Evan Sleight smoked a double to left center to score two. A groundout scored another run and a single by Sweeney and a double from Hugh Pinkney capped off a 5-0 start for the Scarlet Knights before the end of the opening inning.

Two batters later, the Scarlet Knights scored their sixth run of the inning after an Andy Axelson single. Henline was pulled after allowing six runs on six hits in only 0.2 innings, his shortest start on the season.

Up 6-0 after the first inning, Rutgers didn’t take its foot off the gas. In the second inning, a leadoff walk and double put two runners in scoring position, and both runners scored after a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly.

The third inning saw back-to-back hits by pitches and a double secure a ninth run for Rutgers. Shortly after, a groundout made it 10-0 for Scarlet Knights in just the third inning. 

Meanwhile, on the offensive side for Penn State, two singles in the second inning by Bobby Marsh and Piacentino were the only hits the Nittany Lions recorded all night.

The Scarlet Knights’ pitching was near perfect from start to finish, allowing only a handful of runners on walks and hit by pitches after the second inning. Rutgers’ offense wouldn’t score again, but it wasn’t needed as it held a 10-run lead to shut out the Nittany Lions.

Game Three

Penn State fell 8-2 at Rutgers on Sunday afternoon, suffering its second Big Ten sweep of the season. 

The Scarlet Knights wasted no time getting to work and scored five runs in the first inning. Josh Kuroda-Grauer got things started by getting on base with a single down the right-field line. He then stole second, and Ryan Lasko’s double scored Kuroda-Grauer to make it 1-0. 

Lasko stole third, then Travis Luensmann walked two batters to load the bases. Luensmann walked a third batter, which made it 2-0. One play later, a passed ball scored Brito to add a third run. Rutgers put up two more runs in the first inning when Love’s single scored two baserunners to quickly rack up five runs.

Penn State responded in the second inning with an RBI single from C.J. Pittaro that scored Kyle Hannon to make it 5-1. One inning later, Hannon hit a single that scored Piacentino to cut even further into Rutgers’ lead. 

However, Rutgers responded, in turn, by adding to its lead in the bottom of the third inning. Pinkney hit a single, but a wild throw to third base scored Sleight to make it 6-2. 

After a scoreless fourth inning, Rutgers added two more runs, one in the fifth inning and another in the sixth. Brito’s homer made it 7-2 in the fifth inning, while Axelson’s single scored Love in the sixth to add a final point.

The Scarlet Knights’ pitching staff had no more issues the rest of the way and shut down the Nittany Lions to win 8-2. 

Takeaways:

  • This was overall, a very subpar showing from a team with Big Ten Tournament aspirations. Managing just three runs over the course of a series isn’t going to cut it, especially as the season winds down and the postseason looms.
  • Despite Sunday’s loss, Travis Luensmann had a great showing. Over seven innings, he struck out five batters but was charged with three runs. Had the defense played better, his performance could’ve been the difference in the game’s outcome given his effectiveness.

What’s Next?

Penn State will travel to Nebraska to face Omaha for a one-game series at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, May 10.

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Staff

Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.

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