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Penn State Falls Short in Spartan Series Finale

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Big first innings for Michigan State doomed Penn State in both games of a double header Saturday. Michigan State took the first game, 7-1 and the second leg, 6-2 after scoring three first-inning runs in game one and four runs in the first frame of game two. Read More

Penn State Falls Short in Spartan Series Finale

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By Brian McLaughlin, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Big first innings for Michigan State doomed Penn State in both games of a double header Saturday. Michigan State took the first game, 7-1 and the second leg, 6-2 after scoring three first-inning runs in game one and four runs in the first frame of game two.

"I'm really disappointed in us today, head coach Amanda Lehotak said. "In game one we didn't show up early or at all until the second half. I think in game two we had a little more fight but we didn't make adjustments today and Michigan State did, so they won and we lost." 

The Nittany Lion offense was limited all day due the strong performance from Kristina Zalewski, who threw all 14 innings on the day for the Spartans. Tori Dubois was a bright spot for the Nittany Lions, constantly having the answer to Zalewski in the circle. 

Player of the Day: Tori Dubois
Most of the offense Penn State was able to produce came from Dubois, who earned her way to the leadoff spot this weekend. 

"What makes Tori special is that she just plays ball," Lehotak said. "Some hitters are really particular about four spot or three spot, but Tori just sees ball, hits ball and that's why she's really effective anywhere." 

Dubois registered the only two hits for Penn State in the first game of the day, including a solo home run while the rest of the offense struggled to adjust to Zalewski's pitching.

"My preparation going into the game (worked well)," Dubois said. "I do the same thing before every single game and the same thing in practice to I try to bring what I do in practice to the games,"

Dubois leads the Nittany Lions in most offensive categories including batting average and home runs. She has carried the offense recently with her consistent approach.

Pinch Hitting Success
Looking for a spark late in the first game, coach Lehotak inserted pinch hitter Christa Wagner who worked a walk to reach base for Dubois. 

In game two, Penn State was in a similar situation in the fourth inning and Paige Johnson entered the game for Destiny Weber and singled up the middle. This further emphasizes Lehotak's assessment that her team never gives up and fights to the end. The Nittany Lions were prepared to succeed right away off the bench.

In the sixth inning of game two, Penn State loaded the bases with nobody out on three straight hits. A fielder's choice helped them push across one run but were unable to add any more, stranding two runners.

"The (fighting attitude) is just the players. That's the attitude the bring," Lehotak said. "As you saw they had bases loaded no outs and that's a team that fights constantly late in the game. That's just something where it's who they are as people, so that's an area of the game I never have to worry about which is great because that's just so hard to motivate. They've taken that upon themselves and I think that's why they are so special and I praise them in that area. They could have quit many times today and they didn't."

Penn State returns to action Wednesday when Pennsylvania rival Saint Francis travels to Happy Valley for a double header.

Offense Shines in Johns Hopkins Victory

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 15 Penn State men's lacrosse pulled off the upset, defeating fourth-ranked Johns Hopkins to earn the program's first win against the Blue Jays. Headed into the matchup, Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni knew he'd need to rely on a heavy rotation as the Nittany Lions delivered in a stellar offensive performance. Read More

Offense Shines in Johns Hopkins Victory

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By Erin Neri, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - No. 15 Penn State men's lacrosse pulled off the upset, defeating fourth-ranked Johns Hopkins to earn the program's first win against the Blue Jays.

Headed into the matchup, Penn State head coach Jeff Tambroni knew he'd need to rely on a heavy rotation as the Nittany Lions delivered in a stellar offensive performance.

"I was really grateful with the contributions both midfields made, we had seven guys playing at the midfield and three at the attack and every one of those guys did their part," Tambroni said. "We knew we were going to need that kind of performance to make this thing happen today."

The Nittany Lions saw goals from eight different Nittany Lions, including sophomore attacker Mac O'Keefe and junior midfielder Kevin Hill, who both score three goals apiece.

It was the midfield that generated more than half of Penn State's goals Saturday afternoon, led by five different goal-scorers.

"I think we have some very talented players, but I think in order for us to be good everyone has to contribute," Tambroni said. "Sometimes it's the attack's turn and sometimes it's the middies' turn. Today we just had a few more opportunities with our middies and they took advantage of that." 

Penn State's offense thrives on the involvement of everyone. While the team has been working on trying to include everyone in its offensive production throughout the first half of the season, things are starting to finally take shape during Big Ten play.

"That's what we preach every day, we're a team offense," Hill said. "There's not one guy that's the all-star, we work as a team every single day, that's how we succeed. We take a lot of pride in that and that's why we won this game and played so well in the first half offensively."

Perhaps the true star of the game was sophomore attackman, Gerard Arceri. After leaving last weekend's game late in the fourth quarter with a leg injury, it was unclear if he would play Saturday afternoon against the Blue Jays.

Even though Arceri battled through the pain, he went an impressive 16-23 on the day. 

"He's been saying he's going to play since Sunday night, there was never a doubt in that young man's mind," Tambroni said. "Our trainers had a different opinion and we did as well, but he proved every one of us wrong today and got out there and had the performance of a lifetime."

The week leading up to the game wasn't easy though, as Arceri spent all of his time in the training room instead of taking reps on the field.

Knowing the importance of Saturday's game against the Blue Jays, Arceri was determined to make it onto the field to help his teammates fight for the win.

"I've never seen a kid spend so much time in the training room," junior midfielder Nick Spillane said. "He was just so determined to get on the field and just so locked in on what he haxd to do. That's one of the more impressive performances I've ever seen out of anyone."

After taking a big hit at the end of the first half, it looked doubtful Arceri would return to the field. He ended up sitting the third quarter out, giving sophomore Nick McEvoy time at the face off X. McEvoy was spectacular in the meantime, finishing 2-4 with a goal off a face off win with just a second remaining in the third quarter.

Arceri re-entered the game in the fourth quarter, providing yet another spark of momentum for the Nittany Lions to help them secure the victory. There were just a few changes Arceri had to make to his game plan in light of his leg injury though.

"I tried to find my wings a lot faster," Arceri said. "I still tried to pull the ball to myself, but I tried to find them as quick as I could because I couldn't run. Also trying to find [Colby Kneese] back there as an outlet and as many outlets as possible after winning the face off."

As his teammates and coaches noted, Arceri's performance was nothing short of amazing. Even though he was hampered with pain, it was his strong mindset that helped him stay in the game.

"The key was his mental toughness outside of his physical ability," Tambroni said. "What he was able to do out there, just focus and eliminate any thoughts about his leg and dominate the way he did, that was a special once in a lifetime kind of performance."

Penn State Focused on the Bounce Back

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By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's volleyball never quite got going Friday night, falling to the Princeton Tigers in three sets. the Nittany Lions, a quick turnaround playing Saturday night might just help them move past the tough loss.  Read More

Penn State Focused on the Bounce Back

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By Brandon Pelter, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State men's volleyball never quite got going Friday night, falling to the Princeton Tigers in three sets, 25-23, 25-17, 25-17.

"Hats off to them," Penn State head coach Mark Pavlik said. "I'm disappointed in the fact that I didn't have our guys understand what level they needed to compete to be successful tonight. We talked this week about how there is nothing on the line for us, we're in the playoffs, but that can be a kiss of death. The last thing you want to do is try to ramp back up." 

Penn State's Calvin Mende returned to the floor, collecting six kills in his first game since late March.

"I started practicing Tuesday and started to get back into the swing of things," Mende said. "I feel pretty good. I don't see a major difference from where I left off, maybe just a little slow here, a little smaller jump there." 

Penn State won't have much time to make adjustments but Mende does think there are some simple things the Nittany Lions could work on ahead of Saturday's regular season home finale. 

"Definitely our energy to start off the sets," Mende said. "You can't go down 5-1 or 6-1. If you come out fast, it could be a different game. We definitely need to improve communication. We had some scramble plays where the ball dropped but somebody could've gotten it."  

For the Nittany Lions, a quick turnaround playing Saturday night might just help them move past the tough loss.

"I think we already have," sophomore Jason Donorovich said about the loss. "After what coach said and what we feel right now, it's not too hard to flip the switch because no one wants this feeling again. Basically you walk out of the locker room and it's over with."

That message from Pavlik after the game was simple, shake it off.

"Nobody had a good night including myself," Pavlik said. "I told them the chart that I kept was probably one of the worst kept charts of my career and I think the whole idea here is what's done is now done. You can't get it back and we can't carry it with us. So let's make sure we don't carry it with us. Shower it off, pass and serve tomorrow, let's get ready for New Jersey Tech." 

The goal remains the same for the Nittany Lions, to close out the season strong and take it game by game working toward an EIVA Championship and a NCAA bid for a shot at the title.

Penn State is back in action at 7 p.m. hosting NJIT in its final regular season match.

Offense Leads Nittany Lions

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions pushed across eight runs on 11 hits, defeating Big Ten opponent Michigan State Friday night in the first outing of this weekend's three-game series.  Read More

Offense Leads Nittany Lions

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By Andy Kuros, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions pushed across eight runs on 11 hits, defeating Big Ten opponent Michigan State Friday night in the first outing of this weekend's three-game series. 

The Nittany Lions knew going in that they would likely be set for another back-and-forth, high-scoring outing with the Spartans. True to history though, Penn State head coach Amanda Lehotak is proud of the fight she saw from the Nittany Lions.

"I liked how we held our emotions," Lehotak said. "I thought we had a lot of great answer innings. They scored right away, we bounced back right away. Both sides as you saw, historically, will throw different pitchers and I thought everybody kept their composure and did what they had to do.

Proud to see production from one through nine, Lehotak praised the Penn State hitting performance.

"Delaney [Elling] was excellent, Tori [Dubois] was excellent and Toni [Polk] was excellent,  so a lot of good things today," Lehotak said.

Offense by the Outfield
Penn State was led offensively by its three outfielders in Dubois, Polk and freshman Dani Fey. The trio combined for a total of five hits and five RBIs, so they came up huge for the Nittany Lions at the dish. After allowing three runs in the opening frame, Polk's two run triple to right field gave Penn State a 4-3 lead in the first. 

"It was huge," Lehotak said of Polk's big hit. "I think Toni's been a little frustrated lately so for her to have that and to be able to breathe a little bit was excellent. This is what Toni does. She was relaxed at the plate and looked calm. She had two huge at-bats for us tonight."

Dubois hit her sixth home run of the season as her long drive to left field in the fourth inning pushed the Penn State lead to 7-3.

"She's our best hitter and we wanted to get her a minimum of four at-bats but maybe five at-bats," Lehotak said. "We wanted to make them uncomfortable a little and make them pitch to her no matter what."

Dubois scored two runs as she set the table from the lead-off spot in the order.

"It's definitely different spot in the lineup but I liked leading off and providing a spark for the team," Dubois said. "I enjoyed leading off."

The right fielder Fey also had her share of success Friday, collecting an RBI on a base hit. Fey got on base twice from the eighth spot in the order, fueling the offense from the back end of the batting order. 

Cummings Closes it Out
Despite being taken out of the game after the third inning with just three runs allowed, Cummings was once again called upon to pitch in the fifth inning with the game on the line. The senior from Maryland did not disappoint. She worked out of a jam with runners in scoring position to end the fifth and only gave up one run (unearned) in the final 2.2 innings she pitched in relief as she helped lead the Nittany Lions to victory in the circle. 

What's Next?
The Nittany Lions and Spartans will conclude the series Saturday with a doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. at Beard Field. 

Bowersox, Hagenman Continue Hot Streaks

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Juniors Jordan Bowersox and Justin Hagenman have been the leaders for Penn State both offensively and defensively across the past two and a half years.  Read More

Bowersox, Hagenman Continue Hot Streaks

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com student staff writer

 

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Juniors Jordan Bowersox and Justin Hagenman have been the leaders for Penn State both offensively and defensively across the past two and a half years.

 

Coming in as a freshman, Bowersox played in 42 games, starting in 34. He batted .244 on the season and recorded a .310 on-base percentage. As a sophomore in 2017, Bowersox took a big leap with his bat. The centerfielder batted a team-best .333 in 33 games and also led the team in slugging percentage (.480) and on-base percentage (.418).

 

Bowersox was poised to top the lineup in 2018 as a junior, but his offense hasn't translated to statistical success quite yet this season. Bowersox, though, is seemingly heating up at the dish.

 

Hitting .259 coming into Friday night's matchup with Ohio State, he's currently riding his hottest streak of the season. Over the last seven games, Bowersox is 11-27 (.407) and has recorded at least one hit in six of those contests.

 

"I think he'd be the first to admit to you that early he was trying to do way too much because he felt like he [had something] to prove to [MLB] scouts, whereas he's really got to look at it the other way," Penn State head coach Rob Cooper said. "What he did up until that point is what got him noticed in the first place, so he's starting to get back to that. You're seeing him have unbelievable at-bats against good pitching."

 

"J Bo" continued his dominance Friday, going 3-3 at the plate and reaching base in four of his five at-bats against the Buckeye pitching staff. The only time he failed to reach base was in the seventh inning, when Bowersox put down a sacrifice bunt to move a runner to second.

 

Bowersox roped a two-out double in the bottom of the ninth inning to advance the tying run to third, but junior Ryan Sloniger flew out to center field to end the game.

 

Bowersox increased his 2018 batting average to .279 Friday, good for second highest on the team behind Sloniger.

 

"I feel more comfortable at the plate, more calm," Bowersox said. "I've been working hard. I started off a little slow but this game is a game of failure and you get new opportunities every day."

 

As much as Bowersox has conquered opposing pitchers of late, Hagenman has done the same to opposing hitters.

 

Penn State's ace has given up just three earned runs combined in his last three starts. Over his last 18.1 innings, Hagenman has racked up 22 strikeouts and surrendered just 12 hits.

 

On Friday, Hagenman held the Big Ten's highest scoring offense to one unearned run off a throwing error in 6.1 innings pitched. Ohio State averaged 7.23 runs per game before Hagenman shut them down to the tune of seven strikeouts and just four hits allowed.

 

"Those guys can definitely swing it, but that doesn't change the way I go about pitching against them," Hagenman said. "It's up to me to go at them with my best stuff."

 

Hagenman said he made an in-game adjustment with his curveball, and once he started throwing it for a strike it opened up the zone and he rolled through the Buckeye lineup.

 

Hagenman brought his season ERA down from .333 to .292 with the effort. That's the lowest mark on the team even though Hagenman has tossed almost 20 innings more than the next pitcher.

 

"[Hagenman has been] unbelievable," Cooper said. "I love coaching him. If I'm a professional scout, I'm drafting Justin Hagenman because he's a good pitcher and he can really compete."

 

One of the biggest reasons for Hagenman's recent success has been his ability to get hitters to look at strike three. Of his 49 strikeouts this season, more than half have been looking.

 

Hagenman is second in the Big Ten with 25 backward K's on the year.

 

"That's because he executes pitches," Cooper said. "If a guy can execute a pitch when he needs to and where he needs to, you're going to freeze some kids and that's what he does."

 

Penn State dropped the pitcher's duel to Ohio State 1-0 Friday in the first of a three-game series at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

 

Even so, it's encouraging for two of Penn State's most consistent contributors over the last few years to be clicking at the same time.

 

The Nittany Lions return to the diamond Saturday for a doubleheader against the Buckeyes to finish the three-game set. Game one's first pitch is set for 2 p.m.


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