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Penn State Club Baseball’s Rebuild Pays Off With National Championship Victory

After finishing third at the 2022 National Club Baseball Association (NCBA) World Series, Penn State’s Division I club baseball team went on a revenge tour.

Although the club-level Nittany Lions brought a trophy back to Happy Valley, it was the first time in a while that the team neared success.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, club sports at Penn State were completely shut down, leaving empty rosters for the 2021 season. Newly-appointed club baseball head coach Cam Medic was tasked with rebuilding the team and managed to construct a roster filled with skilled players despite starting with nearly no one.

“I worked hard and I showed that I cared, and they did as well, so it was a very good fit,” Medic said.

During Medic’s second season at the helm, the club baseball team secured victories over UMass, UConn, and St. Joe’s in the NCBA Regional Tournament.

After the regional tournament, Penn State moved on to the NCBA World Series. The Nittany Lions reached the semifinals before being bested by Cal Poly, sending them home with a third-place finish.

The loss fueled returning stars to chase down what almost came to be the previous season, and starting pitcher Tyler Reinert knew from the beginning that the following year’s roster could get the job done.

“I can’t stress enough about this team,” Reinert said. “Last year we were solid, good, we had the heart and the will, but this team has the charisma, the character, and the depth.”

The Nittany Lions’ fresh season started off hot when Ty Vaughn hit a walk-off grand slam to unseat the reigning World Series champion Virginia Tech. Penn State retained the momentum it gained early and earned a 13-2 conference record during the spring season.

As the NCBA World Series inched closer, the group learned that its opponent in the series opener would be the team that knocked it out the previous year: Cal Poly.

Reinert earned the starting nod in the World Series opener and gave up just one run through five innings in a 5-1 victory over the Mustangs.

“That kind of felt like my personal championship,” Reinert said.

After jumping their first hurdle, the Nittany Lions faltered in the semifinals and dropped a game to Florida State 9-6. Still, the group handled the pressure with grace and execution to come back and overcome the Gators with a crucial 6-2 win in the deciding game. At the end of the day, the decisive victory didn’t matter because all eyes were on the NCBA World Series Championship.

The Nittany Lions capitalized on their finals appearance and triumphed 6-3 over the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater to earn the 2023 NCBA World Series title.

Reinert was named the World Series MVP with one win, two saves, and a 1.08 ERA on eight innings pitched.

“If you look at the stat line of that team, I don’t know if there is a single kid out of the starters you couldn’t give that award to,” Reinert said.

The bond that the team shared was unmatched, and Reinert praised the opportunity to grow both as a player and a person throughout the team’s journey to a national championship.

“I have never met more genuine guys that care,” Reinert said. “A lot of people don’t realize when it comes to sports, especially baseball, how much it changes you as a person.”

While both Medic and Reinert have now graduated from Penn State, they’re confident that the foundation they laid for the program will be carried on for years to come.

“Club sports really brings out the best of both worlds, you get to go experience the big school and the Penn State atmosphere, and two, get to play competitive baseball,” Medic said. “Anyone that has ever played will tell you the same exact thing.”

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About the Author

Mara McKeon

Mara is a senior staff writer majoring in English and public relations. She loves all things sports and anything that has peanut butter. You can usually find her obsessing over country music or Penn State wrestling and counting down the days until she gets to see Luke Combs in Beaver Stadium. Feel free to reach her on Twitter @MckeonMara, and for more formal affairs, her email is [email protected].

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