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Penn State Baseball Downs Northwestern 12-7, Wins First Big Ten Series Of Season

Penn State baseball (15-12, 3-5 Big Ten) defeated Northwestern (10-17, 0-5 Big Ten) 12-7 to win its first Big Ten series of the season. Backed by another great offensive performance, the Nittany Lions rode a fantastic start from Jaden Henline to win their second straight game.

Grant Norris hit two two-run home runs, totaling three hits, and Bobby Marsh added three hits of his own and three RBIs in the win. Heline threw an impressive seven innings, let up six hits, and struck out and walked one.

How It Happened

Jaden Henline got the start on the mound, but right away, Northwestern came to play. Preston Knott led things off, and on the third pitch, he smoked a solo home run to right-center field to make 1-0 in favor of the Wildcats.

Owen McElfatrick followed up the home run with a single through the right side and a hit by a pitch to Jackson Freeman put two runners on with no outs. Adam Cecere then made a fantastic grab in right for the first out of the inning, and Henline picked up a strikeout for out number two. After a battle against Sonny Rao, Henline got him to ground out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the first, Joe Jaconski led off the inning with a double but got thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice by Bobby Marsh. After J.T. Marr struck out, up came Cecere, and he smoked a two-out RBI double to right-center field to tie the game at one all. Bryce Molinaro was up next but struck out to end the inning.

Northwestern took the lead back in its half of the second inning. Henline picked up two straight groundouts for two early outs, but a double by Griffin Arnone put a runner in scoring position for Knott. The leadoff hitter for the Wildcats smoked another home run to right — a two-run shot to take a 3-1 lead.

Despite a two-out double by Tayven Kelley, Penn State was unable to answer back in the bottom of the second. In the third inning, Northwestern added to its lead with another home run, a solo shot by Freeman. Penn State kept it at only one run for the inning but didn’t answer in the bottom half of the inning as Marr hit into a 1-6-3 double play to end its half.

Henline retired the Wildcats in order during the fourth, but after two innings of no runs, the Nittany Lions finally took the lead. It started off with a bunt single by Cecere, and two batters later, Grant Norris smoked his second home run of the weekend to center field to make it a 4-3 game.

After a groundout from Kevin Michaels, Kelley walked, Kyle Hannon singled, and Jaconski was hit by a pitch to load bases with two outs for Marsh. The left fielder then smoked a single up the middle to score two runs and gave the Nittany Lions a 5-4 lead.

Henline was back out for the fifth inning, and it took him six pitches to retire the Wildcats in order. In the bottom of the fifth, Norris made his presence known again by smoking another two-run shot to center field to extend the Nittany Lions’ lead to three.

After another short inning from Northwestern, Penn State added to its lead in the bottom of the sixth. Jaconski led the inning off with a single to right, and Marsh stepped up next and blasted a triple to left-center field to make it 8-4 for Penn State. Two batters later, Cecere brought Marsh home with a sacrifice fly to extend the lead to five.

In the seventh inning, both teams went down in order 1-2-3. However, in the eighth with David Lee on the mound for Penn State, the Wildcats finally got runs on the board. Freeman led off the inning with a walk, and two batters later, Vince Bianchina smoked to right to put two runners on.

Up came a pinch hitter for Northwestern in Trent Liolios who drilled a triple to center field, scoring two runs to make it 9-6. A groundout by Will Johnson scored Liolios from third to make it a two-run game.

In the bottom half of the eighth, Jaconski smacked a single to right, and pinch hitter Billy Gerlott was hit in the hand to put two runners on. Marr was up next without a hit on the day and he changed that quickly with a two-run RBI double down the left-field line. After a groundout by Cecere moved Marr over to third, Molinaro hit a ground-rule double to score Marr and made it 12-7 in favor of Penn State.

Heading into the top of the ninth, Anthony Steele was on the mound to grab the final three outs of the game. After walking the leadoff batter, Steele got a fielder’s choice for the first out. Steele then got a flyout and a strikeout to end the game with the Nittany Lions winning 12-7.

Takeaways

  • Despite giving up four earned runs on the day, Jaden Henline had an excellent outing for the Nittany Lions. He threw four bad pitches all day — one that was a double off the wall and the other three were for home runs. After letting up the fourth run in the third inning, Henline locked in and threw four consecutive scoreless innings, giving up just one hit during those four innings. He finished with seven innings pitched, striking out one and letting up only six hits.
  • The offense was booming today for the Nittany Lions. Quality at-bats throughout the game allowed Penn State to come back from trailing 4-1 to score 11 runs.
  • Grant Norris and Bobby Marsh in particular stood out in the Nittany Lions’ win. Norris smacked two two-run home runs in the win for his third home run in two days. Marsh also swang the bat well, totaling three hits and three RBIs.

What’s Next?

The Nittany Lions will wrap up the series with the Wildcats during an afternoon matchup at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The game is set to start at noon on Sunday, April 7, and can be streamed on BTN+.

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About the Author

Matt Brown

Matt is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in sports studies from Bensalem, Pa. Matt is a huge Philadelphia sports fan and an overall sports fan in general. When not watching sports, you'll find him taking down any Dollar Dog challenge or rewatching the Big Ten Maps Commercial. To reach him, follow him on Twitter and Instagram: @matt_brown63, or email him at [email protected].

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