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Balance Propels Penn State to Victory

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By Jack Dougherty, student staff writer

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Eight different Nittany Lions recorded hits with seven scoring at least one run in Penn State's 9-2 victory against Lafayette Wednesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The win was a sheer clinic in balance from top to bottom of the roster, as four Lions recorded multi-hit games with four pitchers combining to allow just two runs.

Penn State tallied 12 hits in the game with its nine runs marking the most for the Blue and White since scoring 10 runs in a win over Columbia March 25.

"We came into the game ready to go from the get go," Nick Riotto said. "Once we got a few, we weren't going to be satisfied. We just kept putting together quality at-bats and kept it going one through nine."

Freshman Mason Nadeau slugged his first career home run in the sixth inning on a two-run shot to right field. 

"It was pretty awesome," Nadeau said. "I actually wasn't entirely sure if it was going to go out at first, but I knew I barreled it up pretty well, so seeing it hit the bleachers was a really good feeling."

Nadeau went 2-4 in the game, scoring two runs and tallying two RBIs from the leadoff spot. He also anchored the defense with a few running catches in the gaps to save extra base hits from centerfield. Head coach Rob Cooper said a few days ago he would like to see Nadeau improve as a fielder, but he looked extremely comfortable in center Wednesday night.

"[Defense] is the one thing that I always try to keep constant and at a high level because it's something I can kind of rely on when the bat's not going as well," Nadeau said.

Nadeau has been on an absolute tear since returning from an injury April 18 against Pittsburgh. In five games, Nadeau is 8-15 (.533) with four runs scored and five walks since his return to the lineup.

Nadeau owns the highest batting average (.365) on the team this season. He has missed 21 games in 2017, but his presence back in the lineup has helped Penn State snap a six-game skid and win two straight.

"He's a workhorse," pitching coach Brian Anderson said. "He's super energetic. He's a little pack of dynamite. He can swing the bat pretty darn aggressively and he can used the whole field. When he barrels up the baseball odds are it's going to be hit somewhere pretty good."

Riotto, Conlin Hughes and Alex Malinsky joined Nadeau with multi-hit games in the contest. Riotto led Penn State in the game with three RBIs. 

The only Penn State starter who failed to record a hit was second baseman Christian Helsel, but even he scored a run in the game after he was hit by a pitch in the first inning. The Lions broke the game open early with four runs in the first.

Hughes started the scoring with an RBI single to score Nadeau. Riotto then hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield to score Helsel.

With two outs, Hughes and Willie Burger displayed incredible hustle by both scoring on a dropped pop fly by the pitcher with two outs in the inning.

Schuyler Bates started on the mound for the fifth time this season and recorded his second win. The junior tossed five innings and allowed two runs on five hits against the Leopards. 

The win was Bates' first since March 29 against Cornell in which he posted five innings without allowing a run. Bates owns a 4.15 ERA in 13 appearances this season. He only pitched in five total games in his first two seasons combined.

"He's taking every advantage to be a Tuesday or Wednesday guy for us and he's running with it," Anderson said. "He actually helps and assists us for our bullpen for our Friday, Saturday series and that's huge."

Three pitchers relieved Bates and didn't surrender a run in the final four innings. Dakota Forsyth replaced Bates in the sixth inning and tossed two scoreless innings while allowing just two hits. 

Taylor Lehman then took over in the eighth inning and was relieved in the middle of the ninth by Nick Distasio, who closed the game out.

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