‘It Was A Pretty Memorable Experience’: Penn State Club Baseball Wins Back-To-Back National Titles

What’s better than one national championship? Two national championships.

What’s better than two national championships? Back-to-back national championships.

That’s exactly what Penn State club baseball has done. After winning the 2023 Club Baseball World Series, the team repeated a year later, winning the 2024 title in May.

Penn State club baseball, President Tanner Singh said, has a rich history. Since its formation in 1996, the team has been to several World Series and won a handful of championships.

“It starts with all the guys on this team. These guys come in from all over the northeastern part of the country that are coming in and are looking to win championships,” Singh told Onward State. “It’s pretty cool to see no matter who’s on the team, who’s playing, what year it is, the goal still remains the same.”

Club baseball, like many clubs, suffered greatly from COVID-19. In the years since, the students running the group have had to work to get it back to the standard it once held. With back-to-back titles, Penn State is back in the national spotlight.

That rebuilding process begins with getting players on the team. Over the years, Penn State’s become so good in the club baseball world that it’s built up a bit of a following. High school players weighing their options between playing Division III baseball or coming to Penn State to play club will reach out to the team to ask about the experiences. While club baseball can’t offer scholarships, the name recognition has helped.

“There’s a little bit of recruiting, obviously word of mouth, social media, things like that. Nothing out of the ordinary,” Singh said. “I think it’s pretty cool, though. We have guys just reaching out and asking about the club, what’s it going to be like, what’s it like to play for us, what’s the talent like, and I think it just goes to show that this club has been successful and they want to make it more successful.”

When Penn State made its championship run in 2023, the result was somewhat expected. Head coach Mitch Miletics said the team had plenty of senior talent and leadership, making it easier to put together a title-contending team.

However, the 2024 season brought different expectations. The team saw a bit of turnover and needed younger players to step up.

During the regular season, Penn State took care of its conference, made up of itself, SUNY-Binghamton, Slippery Rock, Pitt, and SUNY-Brockport, with relative ease. The Nittany Lions finished their regular season with an 11-1 conference record and an automatic bid to the Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament.

In the regional tournament, Penn State took care of Temple, Northeastern, and Delaware in quick order. After three wins, the team was into another World Series. Miletics said the team was heating up at the right time.

It wasn’t easy for Miletics to coach the team during this stretch. While he may have been the team’s manager until his graduation in May, he was also a former player. Sidelined by injuries, Miletics took to coaching the team. However, coaching his friends meant Miletics had to bench some of the players he had hung out with off the field for the good of the club.

“It’s hard to create that boundary of friend-to-coach when I need to be taken seriously,” Miletics said. “I just need to try to get my point across and you have to develop a layer of trust and respect at the same time.”

As weird as it was for Miletics to coach his friends, the World Series wasn’t any more normal for Penn State.

In its first game of the tournament, Penn State took care of Michigan in short order, winning 5-1. the next game, against Grand Canyon, wasn’t nearly as simple.

“Every top of the inning, you’re down three and then every bottom of the inning, you’re up one or up four,” Miletics said. “We got to that game, [played] three innings and we had a two-and-a-half hour rain delay. And then we came back, [had] 20 minutes to warm up and warmed up. And then we’re just draining our bullpen and just so many guys throwing, and it’s every inning, we’re up and down, up and down.”

Senior Nate Zimcosky proved to be the hero for Penn State. His grand slam for the Nittany Lions in the eighth inning was enough to lift them over the Antelopes in a 16-13 shootout.

“I just figured I’m going into the World Series,” Zimcosky said. “I’m like, ‘This is the last time I’m going play college baseball. Just leave it all out there.'”

Penn State didn’t have a game as wild as the first time it played Grand Canyon for the duration of the tournament. an 8-1 win over Florida State set up the Nittany Lions for a rematch against the Antelopes in the championship game, though Penn State entered the game plenty confident for round two.

“After that game, it was like, if we can beat them swinging like that, we could beat anybody,” Zimcosky said. “I figured the second time around, we knew who we were playing.”

Penn State won its rematch with Grand Canyon 7-1. Zimcosky, who also graduated in May, was named the World Series Most Valuable Player. He went 9-for-17 at the plate and recorded a .628 on-base percentage. Zimcosky also recorded two home runs, eight RBI, seven runs, and two steals.

The Nittany Lions may be two-time national champions, but that isn’t what Singh is thinking about anymore. Just after winning his second title, the club president was already thinking about the third.

“We returned a lot of our guys and we’re excited for another chance to go back,” Singh said.

“Throughout the year, we had a lot of ups and downs,” Singh continued. “The team faced a lot of adversity, and to know that we came through at the end and especially go 4-0 the World Series…it was a pretty memorable experience.”

Interested in joining club baseball? You’ll see them at Penn State’s fall Involvement Fair with their two national championship trophies, which Singh said will give them plenty of looks. Tryouts for the team will run from mid-September to mid-October as the team gets ready to make a run at their third national championship.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author

Joe Lister

Joe is a junior journalism major at Penn State and Onward State's managing editor. He covers Penn State football, among other Penn State sports. He also listens to Mac Miller more than you. If you want to find him, Joe's usually watching soccer with his shirt off or at the gym with his shirt on. For dumb stuff, follow him on Twitter (iamjoelister). For serious stuff, email him ([email protected]).

Penn State Football Preparing For Defensive Adjustments As New Big Ten Dawns

“Bottom line is, the game has changed. And we got to be able to adapt to it, and we will.”

Three-Star Safety Antonio Branch Jr. Commits To Penn State Football

Branch was the Nittany Lions second commit from the class of 2025.

Cori Dyke, TJ Malone Earn Penn State’s Big Ten Medals Of Honor

The All-Americans received one of the conference’s greatest honors.