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Five-Run Third, Welsh's Gem Fuel Nittany Lion Baseball Past Michigan State

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Behind a five-run third inning and a complete game, five-hit shutout from junior Greg Welsh on the mound, the Nittany Lions (14-35, 4-19) belted 17 hits en route to a 9-0 victory over Michigan State (32-17, 11-9) on a sun-splashed Friday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

8936110.jpegOn a day where all nine Nittany Lions in the lineup tallied hits, sophomore catcher J.C. Coban opened the scoring with an RBI base hit through the middle of the infield in the bottom of the first inning.  However, it was Coban's second RBI single on a sharply hit ball to right field in the top of the third that opened the gates for Penn State's second shutout of the 2013 season.

"There was a big hole up the middle, and all I was trying to do was put the ball up the middle in my first at bat," Coban said.  "It was huge to get contributions from a number of different guys (in the third inning)."

Freshman left fielder James Coates kick-started the big third with a single to left field.  In total, the Lions notched six hits in the third, which included a two-RBI double from senior Matt Paradise just inside the left field line.  An Elliot Searer RBI single to left capped the scoring to make it 6-0.

From there, the junior southpaw on the mound took over.  Welsh tossed his first career complete game performance while yielding just five hits.  He struck out just two and walked one on 102 pitches.  Welsh pitched with great tempo and developed an early rhythm to shut down Michigan State.

"Coach Bell always tells me, and I believe it, too, that I am really good in a fast tempo," Welsh said.  "I'm not really thinking about each pitch to just keep on rolling.  He did a good job in the dugout telling me to just keep it up.  There was a time in the middle of the game where I kind of slowed it down when I was in the stretch, but I picked it up and like working fast."

Michigan State leadoff batter Cam Gibson doubled to open the game.  Welsh then retired the next nine batters before the Spartans led off the fourth inning with a single.  The key to the superb outing for Welsh was his ability to throw strikes.

"Throwing strikes is huge," Welsh said.  "Recently, including myself, the whole staff has really had trouble throwing strikes and giving our defense a chance to make plays.  I was really happy trusting my defense back there and pitching to contact, and they had my back all day."

The Nittany Lions added three more tallies in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach, thanks to an RBI single from Luis Montesinos and a two-RBI single from Zach Ell.

One day after falling 16-1 in the series opener against Michigan State, the Nittany Lions looked like a completely different ball club on Friday.  Seven different players notched at least two hits, led by Coban's three-hit, two-RBI effort at the DH spot.  Friday marked Penn State's largest offensive output in Big Ten play this season with 17 hits and nine runs.

"We're still fighting, and we are still competing," Coban said.  "Greg (Welsh) was battling his butt off out there, so we had to do our job out there, too."

"It was a great win for us, a huge win," Welsh said.

The Nittany Lions and Spartans will again do battle on Saturday in the regular season finale.  Penn State will honor its senior class prior to the 1:05 p.m. first pitch at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Follow's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

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