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Penn State Baseball Dominates Pitt 10-1

Penn State baseball (13-9) took down Pitt (11-11) 10-1 in front of a packed Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Dollar Dog Night.

Mason Butash got the start and threw a stellar four-inning shutout to set the tone against the Panthers early. The rest of the bullpen followed suit, keeping Pitt to one hit. On offense, J.T. Marr put on a show with two hits and two RBIs in the sixth inning as the Nittany Lions hung seven runs to surge ahead and claim the win.

How It Happened

Mason Butash started the game on the mound for the Nittany Lions, beginning his outing with a five-pitch walk against Dom Popa and fanning Tyler Bischke for an early strikeout. J.T. Marr then caught Popa stealing to clear the bases. Butash walked the next two Pitt batters but forced C.J. Funk to pop out and end the top of the first.

Penn State’s turn at the dish started with a Joe Jaconski single, but a 4-6-3 double play on Bobby Marsh’s grounder took the Nittany Lions off the bases. Marr flew out to center to close the first frame.

Butash picked up two strikeouts to start the second before Turner Grau ended Pitt’s attack on its third batter with a flyout to left.

Adam Cecere began the bottom of the second for a walk for the Nittany Lions before Bryce Molinaro popped out to third base. Grant Norris hit a slow roller to short good enough for a Pitt 6-4-3 double play to clean up the inning.

Pitt’s batting woes continued as Butash forced three consecutive flyouts on nine pitches to retire the Panthers.

In the bottom half of the third inning, Tayven Kelley led with a strikeout before Kevin Michaels singled on a line drive to left. He advanced to second on Kyle Hannon’s groundout to the pitcher, but Jaconski’s deep fly ball to right-center didn’t bring him home before the inning closed.

The Panthers started the fourth inning with successive flyouts but managed their first baserunner since the first inning as Bellefonte native Funk walked on four pitches. Butash recovered and slammed the door shut as he forced once-Nittany Lion Josh Spiegel into a swinging strikeout.

The Nittany Lions began the bottom of the fourth with a Marsh lineout. Pitcher Aidan Coleman gave up a four-pitch walk to Marr, whipping up the crowd around Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and walking Cecere with what was his eighth consecutive ball thrown. Pitt used a mound visit to calm the freshman’s nerves but it wasn’t enough as he beaned Molinaro to load the bases.

Gavin Chillot took over with one out and picked up a fielder’s choice on Norris to keep the Nittany Lions scoreless on his first batter. Chillot walked Cecere home to give Penn State a 1-0 lead but escaped the jam as Kelley grounded to third.

Penn State passed the baton to pitcher Matt Morash in the top of the fifth inning, picking up a quick groundout against Jake Kendro. Back-to-back dropped popups to Norris and Michaels allowed Grau and Ryan Zuckerman to reach base on errors for Pitt. A Popa walk loaded the bases before a fielder’s choice sent to second scored Pitt’s first run and left runners at the corners. Penn State held the 1-1 tie and stopped the offensive with a groundout.

The Panthers made short work of the Nittany Lions to close the fifth inning, striking out Hannon, popping out Jaconski, and flying out Marsh on 12 pitches.

Connor Throneberry replaced Morash on the bump for Penn State to start the sixth frame and retired two batters on a groundout and a swinging strikeout. Spiegel ended the Nittany Lion no-hitter with a single that split the infield and advanced to second on a passed ball. Kenro and Grau joined him on base on walks, loading the bases for the second inning in a row. Throneberry neutralized the threat and sent the Panthers packing on a three-pitch strikeout.

Pitt brought in former Penn State pitcher Ryan Partridge on the mound in the bottom of the sixth, but his return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park was short-lived. Marr smacked a left-field double and was followed up by a Cecere walk. Molinaro brought Marr home with a deep double to left center, and Norris hit a fly ball that dropped behind the shortstop to knock Cecere home, and the Nittany Lion lead grew to 3-1.

Pitt replaced Partridge with Ben Kovel, still without an out. Kelley continued the rally with a walk to load the bases, and Michaels walked to bring in another run, extending the score to 4-1.

The bases still loaded, Hannon advanced to second on a single up the middle, scoring two more runs for Penn State. Jaconski struck out for Pitt’s first out, followed up by a Marsh groundout for the second. Marr then singled to right, his second hit of the inning, tacking on another two runs. A Molinaro strikeout saw the Panthers finally close the sixth inning, and the score read 8-1 in Penn State’s favor.

Pitt went down in order in the top of the seventh inning, facing Ben DeMell. The trio was capped off with a striking out on Cantwell.

Penn State kept the pressure up with a Norris single that advanced to third base the next at-bat on a steal with a throwing error. He ended the inning stranded in scoring position, though, as Hannon and Kelley both struck out swinging.

The Panthers reached base in the top of the eighth inning on a fielding error by Norris but were otherwise dismissed in short order with two flyouts and a strikeout.

Penn State threatened more runs in the eighth, spurred on by a Jaconski single that saw him sit at third after a steal and wild pitch. Marsh joined him on base with a walk, and the pair were batted home by Molinaro and Norris to push the lead to 10-1.

DeMell completed the three-inning save and closed the game.

Takeaways

  • Mason Butash had a breakout day on the mound, holding Pitt scoreless through the first four innings. Allowing no hits and just four walks, his four strikeouts closed innings quickly and set the tone for the Nittany Lions. This was a confidence-building outing, and hopefully an indicator of success later in the season when Penn State returns to conference play.
  • Penn State’s bats came alive in the sixth inning, turning what looked like a pitching duel into a thrashing. A team whose bats usually cool off late, this surge is a breath of fresh air for the Nittany Lions.
  • Adam Cecere’s plate discipline was on full display tonight as the senior walked five times. His presence on base kept rallies alive and was responsible for two runs tonight.
  • Ben DeMell’s closing performance was impressive. The sophomore went three innings hitless and walk-less, denying the Panthers any hope of a comeback and bookending a statement bullpen performance.

What’s Next?

Penn State takes on its first Big Ten away series of the campaign in Champaign as it takes on Illinois. The three-game slate begins Friday, March 29, with the first pitch at 7 p.m.

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About the Author

Jack Scott

Jack is a junior industrial engineering major from Pittsburgh, PA. Sometimes, he enjoys the misunderstanding of his friends and family that Penn State Club Ski Racing may be a D1 sport and usually won't correct them. Jack is way too into Thundercat for his own good. Follow him on Twitter @joscottIV and Instagram @jackscott._iv

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