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Penn State Baseball Falls 11-6 To Michigan, Loses First Big Ten Series

Penn State baseball (12-9, 1-2 Big Ten) fell 11-6 against Michigan (9-15, 2-1 Big Ten) on Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The Nittany Lions led 1-0 entering the sixth inning. The Wolverines tied it, and then exploded for nine runs in the seventh inning. Mike Gambino’s squad attempted a late comeback, but it was too little too late as the Nittany Lions suffered an opening Big Ten series loss.

How It Happened

Gambino handed Frankie Sanchez the ball to begin the game. He walked Bradley Navarro, but three batters went down in order.

Joe Jaconski led off with a single, but Adam Cecere and J.T. Marr’s fly balls were snagged. Then, Bobby Marsh doubled to center field, which scored Jaconski to give Penn State a 1-0 lead.

Both teams stranded runners in scoring position in the second inning. Michigan was knocking on the door with Dylan Stanton on third base, but once again, the Wolverines went down in order after his leadoff double to strand him. Penn State threatened to score with the bases loaded, but Bryce Molinaro was thrown out while attempting to steal home plate. The next two batters got out to end the inning.

Sanchez was replaced by Mason Horwat in the fourth inning. Horwat struggled with his command by throwing a wild pitch and allowing a single, but he recovered by fanning Stanton in another scoreless inning.

Anthony Steele entered for Horwat in the fifth inning. He plunked a batter and struck out another as Michigan remained scoreless.

However, the Wolverines tied it in the sixth inning. Stanton singled and Cole Caruso walked, putting Kyle Dernedde in a critical moment. Dernedde answered the call with a single to score Stanton.

The momentum continued to turn Michigan’s way in the seventh inning. Will Perkowski had an uncharacteristically poor outing, as he allowed a leadoff single, plunked Navarro, and allowed another single to load the bases. As a result, Gambino swapped him for David Lee. He gave up a double to Stephen Hrustich, and two runners scored to make it 3-1 Michigan.

Lee was then removed for Connor Throneberry. However, the worst was yet to come. In just the top of the seventh inning, there were 14 batters, 11 baserunners, nine runs scored, three hits, and two errors as the Wolverines took a resounding 10-1 lead.

AJ Garcia hit an RBI double in the eighth inning to give Michigan an 11-1 lead. However, Kyle Hannon scored off Jaconski’s single after reaching on an error to make it 11-2 in the bottom of the inning.

The Nittany Lions continued mounting a comeback. Marr and Matt Maloney both hit RBI singles, and then Grant Norris hit a sacrifice RBI to make it 11-5. Penn State grabbed one more run when Maloney scored off a wild pitch.

The comeback attempt was too little too late, as Penn State went down in order in the ninth inning to seal the deal on an 11-6 loss.

Takeaways

  • The seventh inning was a complete disaster. Everything was fine up until then, but giving up nine runs resembles a complete lack of focus.
  • Penn State’s pitching was the primary culprit behind the loss. Seven walks, four wild pitches, and a 5.48 ERA wasn’t going to cut it.
  • This should’ve been a series win for Penn State. Playing a sub-.500 Michigan team at home, and playing decent baseball throughout most of the series, should’ve been enough to win. Still, the lack of focus was a huge Achilles heel that got in the way of a series win.

What’s Next

Penn State remains at home against Pitt at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 26, at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The game will be televised on BTN+.

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About the Author

Nolan Wick

Nolan is a third-year journalism major from Silver Spring, Maryland, which means he's an avid fan of all D.C. sports teams. If Nolan isn't writing about or watching sports, you can probably find him listening to all sorts of music or traveling. To keep up with Nolan, you can follow him on Twitter @nolan_wick or email him at [email protected].

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