UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With just four games
left in their season, the Penn State baseball team took to the Medlar Field at
Lubrano Park turf and claimed a, 7-4, victory over Villanova on Tuesday, but
after the game some reflection from a pair of seniors put the final weekend of
the season into perspective.
It looked like the Lions were headed for another game hampered by mistakes, with
two, first inning errors leading to three unearned runs for the Wildcats.
However, Starting pitcher Patton Taylor and reliever Blake Estep shut down Villanova's offense for the next seven innings and gave their offense the time needed to mount the comeback.
"[Falling behind early] has been plaguing us all year long," said head coach Robbie Wine, "but Patton [Taylor] pitched well after the first inning and gave us a chance to win. We've been getting hits all year long, but it is about defense and pitching and tonight we held up."
Taylor threw six innings and allowed three runs - zero earned - on five hits and struck out a career-best seven batters to pick up the win and Estep posted his first career save with three innings of one-run relief work.
Elliott Searer and Tyler Kendall each plated a pair of RBIs, while J.C. Coban, Alex Farkes and Luis Montesinos all drove in one run in the victory.
Montesinos and Searer are two of the nine seniors that will be honors prior to the Nittany Lions final game of the season on Saturday, May 18 against Michigan State. The eight players and one manager will close out their careers with a lot to be proud of and many memories according to head coach Robbie Wine.
"[Our seniors] have been a part of some really exciting times and they've taken advantage of an opportunity to get a great education," said Wine. "I hope when they look back they remember the friendships and all of the good times they've had."
It's always nice to close out your season on your home field and Penn State gets to play in one of the nicest facilities in college baseball.
Medlar Field at Lubrano Park is nestled among the majority of the PSU athletic facilities and gives players and fans a breathtaking view of the mountains in center field. The seniors talked not only about the amenities, but also the playing surface.
The common areas and locker rooms were a highlight for Montesinos, while both he and Searer bragged about the playing surface. Both infielders were complementary of the efforts of the grounds crew and mentioned that the surface was one of the main reasons they chose Penn State.
"The grounds crew does an outstanding job getting this field ready for us every year," said Searer. "Most people don't know it, but those guys do an amazing job making sure it's one of the best fields in college baseball. We see a lot of other parks and being able to play here on a surface that is second-to-none has been incredible."
When asked what they will remember most, both players responded quickly.
"It all starts with the guys I came in with and all of these guys that are in this locker room right now," said Searer. "The memories of the times I have shared with these guys, the friendships and the time spent with these guys is something I will always remember."
Montesinos also recalled his first career start against Lamar during the second week of his freshman season. He was 0-for-2 with a walk, but still gets a smile on his face when talking about his first taste of college baseball and the friendships he's made.
"One big things I will take with me is how close I am with all of my teammates," said Montesinos. "Playing with this team has been awesome and this is a great group of guys."
Underclassmen don't always take the advice of those who've come before them, but the seniors say they will try to impart the age-old testimonial upon the younger Nittany Lions as they depart to enjoy their time and soak everything in.
"It's kind of cliché, but being a Penn State student-athlete is something very special," said Searer. "You're able to compete on a national level and not many people get a chance to play in a great facility like [Medlar Field] and get an education that is highly regarded around the world."
One thing that the entire senior class looks forward to is continuing the momentum built over the last week and ending the season on a high note.
"We just want to come out swinging," said Montesinos. "We hit the ball well last weekend and we came out and kept it going [Tuesday] versus Villanova. Hopefully we can go out there and get three wins against Michigan State."