By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The second inning Wednesday night was the type of inning the Penn State offense has been waiting for all season long.
The Nittany Lions kept the bottom of the second going for about 30 minutes, sending 11 total batters to the plate. The result was six runs on seven hits that led Penn State to a 7-2 victory against Mount St. Mary's.
"It's good for us," left fielder Parker Hendershot said. "Obviously we have been struggling lately. It's good to have a game where we get these runs and these hits here and there and it's hopefully something that can get us started for the rest of the season."
Hendershot got the second inning started with a single through the right side. After moving to third on a wild pitch and a ground out, shortstop Joe Weisenseel singled him home with a lined drive under the second baseman's glove. Tommy Gibson then knocked in Weisenseel on a single down the left field line before Ryan Sloniger brought home two more on a single to center.
Third baseman Connor Klemann kept the offense rolling with his first career triple on a shot to deep left center field. Hendershot, who started the inning, then knocked in the final run of the second with a double down the left field line.
"It was fun," Hendershot said of the second inning. "Everyone was into it and we just kept piling them on. Hopefully we can continue to do that."
The offense tacked on another run in the third inning, but was unable to put another run on the board for the rest of the game.
Although the scoring may have slowed down, Klemann did not.
On top of his first career triple, the third baseman tied his career high with three hits on the evening with a run scored and an RBI.
"It definitely feels good," Klemann said of his three-hit night. "Baseball has its ups and downs. It's a long season and we're only half way. I've been hitting some balls hard, so I've been sticking with it. It was good to finally see some results tonight."
Klemann got off to a hot start to the 2018 season hitting .297 through the first 20 games of the year, but over the past few weeks he has struggled at the plate. Entering Wednesday's game, Klemann was hitting just .243, but the third baseman was able to bump his average back up to .259 after his three-hit night.
Slumps are not something Klemann has had to battle in his time at Penn State. The third baseman has played and started in all 30 games this year, which is more games than he has played in a single season since his first season with the Nittany Lions in 2016.
In his freshman season, Klemann was named the opening day starting second baseman, but ended up with an injury in the first game that sidelined him until April, allowing him to play in only 28 games. Again in 2017, Klemann only played in 10 games before he was forced to end his season due to another injury.
For Penn State head coach Rob Cooper, because Klemann hasn't be able to get a full season under his belt, he hasn't had to learn how to bounce back from hitting slumps.
"It's been awhile," Cooper said. "It's one thing that we talked about earlier. It was like, 'Hey man, I know you're struggling. I know you want to get out of it. It's kind of new to you. You got to stay with it.' He made some adjustments to his swing yesterday and it kind of showed up today."
The adjustments the third baseman made to his swing prior to Wednesday's game paid off with two singles and a stand up triple that gave Klemann his first multi-hit game since March 30 against Purdue.
"Obviously he can really hit," Cooper said. "He's a guy that hits in the middle of our lineup and when he can do some damage it helps."
Along with Klemann's hot bat, Hendershot continued his hot streak going 2-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI, while Weisenseel went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. The hot offensive night gave Penn State its first win since March 25 snapping an 11-game losing streak.
The Nittany Lions hope that the hot bats continue in Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend when the team takes on the Wolverines.
"I think we should treat every game the same no matter who it is," Hendershot said. "I think we should go in there knowing what we are capable of and put the past experiences behind us. Just focus on the task at and just knowing that we can beat any team in the country as long as we just focus and put our mind to it."