Recently in Baseball Category
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
PARK, Pa. - Team building can come in many different ways and it has for the
Penn State baseball team during the young tenure of new head coach Rob Cooper.
This week Cooper and his staff are taking that team building to the next level
prior to Thanksgiving break with the first "Omaha Challenge."
a.m. each day this week Cooper's team will meet at Holuba Hall or the East Area
Locker room and be split into four teams competing against each other in a
variety of strength and conditioning challenges.
The name "Omaha Challenge" is set as a motivator for the team's ultimate
landing spot, Omaha, Neb., the home of the College World Series.
overriding goal of this challenge, which Cooper has implemented at other
programs, is to come out of it better as a team.
another way to make our guys compete and fight through any limitations that
they have and make them dig down and find out a little more about themselves,"
said Cooper. "There's also an element of them having to work together to win
certain events so it's a way to put them in a competitive situation and find a
way to come out on top."
strength and conditioning coach Jamie Burleson put together challenges for the
players to compete in each day with individual and team events. The days range
from strongman events, weight lifting challenges and team relay events.
the end of the week, after Burleson and his team record the results each day,
there will be a team and individual winner. Junior outfielder Aaron Novak is
looking forward to competing against his teammates.
going to be good to compete against each other and have an opportunity to
compete early in the preseason," said Novak. "Although it will be tough, it's a
cool chance to see how hard we have to work to get better and be where we want
to be when the season gets there."
competitive nature that will be brought about is a very important part to the
early morning competition. Although it may not be desirable to 18-22 year old
college student-athletes, the time of the "Omaha Challenge" goes back to
Cooper's original mantra when he took the job at Penn State.
wants his team to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
why it's at 5 a.m.," Cooper said. "It's not that comfortable waking up at 4:30
in the morning making sure you are on time and then having to get yourself in
competitive frame of mind.
order to be a championship program you have to be with people that are willing
to be comfortable being uncomfortable, you have to be willing to adjust to
what's going on and be willing to compete."
players that they have to take part in 5 a.m. workouts only makes sense to
Cooper if they know why they are doing it. The first year head coach said
overall that is how a coach gets players to buy into a program.
you're just doing things with no real plan and not educating them as to why you
are doing it, then they aren't going to buy in," he said.
has noticed that as a trend from the programs new leaders. Everything they do
has a purpose and the "Omaha Challenge" is just another example of something
that will only have them in better shape for the regular season.
run hills every week and we don't run them just to run them," Novak said. "The
coaches tell us we do it because it's hard work. It's not going to make us hit
the ball farther or throw harder, it forces us to be mentally tough and we can
use that to our advantage."
Nittany Lions had their first day of the challenge this morning and will
continue the challenge throughout the week. Penn State opens the regular season
Feb. 14 against Gardner-Webb.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Recently hired Penn State head baseball coach
Rob Cooper had a busy end to his summer before arriving on the University Park campus
to begin molding his Nittany Lions program.
who was hired on Aug. 9, spent the last few weeks of his summer coaching the
USA Baseball U18 team that competed at the IBAF U18 Baseball World Cup in
Taiwan. His squad rallied from behind in three games before claiming gold with
a victory over Japan.
back on campus and focusing on his new post at Penn State, there is a lot
Cooper can relate from his experiences in Taiwan to being the new Nittany
were a lot of unique experiences for Cooper, who was a two-time assistant on
the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team staff before being named head coach of
the U18 squad, specifically being able to represent his country while coaching
the highlight of my coaching career because any time you get to represent your
country and wear the USA across your chest and play for a gold medal it's just
an unbelievable feeling," he said.
team originally had 40 players after the initial 144-player tryout in Cary,
N.C. Those 40 players headed to California for a second set of evaluations and
were then cut down to 20 before the start of the World Cup.
and his USA staff were tasked with taking the 20 best players in the country
for their age and put together a team first environment that eventually was
able to mesh into a gold medal team.
was most impressed with the way those 20 guys, the best 20 players in the
country, didn't care about statistics, where they were from or what college
they'd committed to," Cooper said.
they cared about was coming together, staying together and doing everything
they could to win a gold medal for their country."
is the same mindset Cooper is already instilling in his Penn State team as the
fall season begins to get underway. Cooper and his staff want the players to
take a day-by-day approach, but he stresses the fact that they have to be put
in uncomfortable situations in order to be successful.
have to get comfortable being uncomfortable," said Penn State's 14th head
was able to do that with the U18 team and is confident his players at Penn
State will buy into the mindset in a similar fashion, saying he has already
seeing signs that they will.
Cooper first met with his players, his trip to Taiwan was a hot topic between the
players and their new coach. When Cooper was asked what the most rewarding part
about the World Cup was his answer was simple: the difficulty of winning the
back to being uncomfortable and being able to grind through those tight situations.
His team was down in multiple games and found a way to come back and achieve
victory. That experience is something Cooper will bring forth as the Nittany
Lions' head man.
what makes it all worth while," he said. "That's what makes things special when
you overcome and achieve things that are tough so you can say you accomplished them."
not going to be easy for this Penn State team. That was the message Cooper was
trying to deliver when answering the question, but he also wanted to make
something else very clear early in his tenure.
players on the current Nittany Lion roster are the players he wants. Period.
I mean by that is that I have had a lot of people say, 'when you get your guys
in there you are going to do a good job,'" Cooper said. "That irritates me
because these are my guys."
going to go about this year and put in the work and the time and the energy and
we're going to give a great effort."
being able to have conversations with his players, settle into the State
College area and begin his new job at Penn State, Cooper has made a lot of
realizations about the Penn State community.
were immediately obvious when he took the job back in August and others he has
picked up on as he's gone along, but all of it verified why he wanted to be
here in the first place.
have certain expectations and it's very rare that places or people or things surpass
those expectations," he said. "There's something new I learn about State
College or Penn State every day that makes me think, 'no wonder this is such a
special place.' That reaffirms why I wanted to be here."
that with the experiences that Cooper just had with Team USA and it puts
together something very special not only for Cooper but for the Penn State
athletic community, as well.
of the things that makes what I just got a chance to do so special is that I
got a chance to represent my country as a member of the Penn State family and
that was really neat to be able to lead that team and bring back a gold medal
to the Penn State community," said Cooper.
it's time for him and his staff to go to work. Penn State will complete its
individual workouts next week and begin team practices on Sept. 26.
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Steven Hill, Cody Lewis and Dave Walkling were the most
experienced and perhaps the most reliable pitchers for Penn State entering the 2013
campaign and finished their careers with the same description.
The numbers don't do them justice. The three senior pitchers were the heart and
sole of the Nittany Lion pitching staff, as well as the team as a whole, which
made the ending to their careers very fitting.
Against Michigan State on May 18, Senior Day, Penn State used just three
pitchers; Hill, Walkling and Lewis. Despite the loss, it was an appropriate end
for each of the pitchers.
Hill, despite battling a shoulder injury for the majority of the 2013 season,
threw seven and two-thirds scoreless innings against the Spartans, something
the Nittany Lions have seen many times during his career. The scoreless outing
was a perfect conclusion to his career at Penn State, which started as a
"The coaches gave me the opportunity my freshman year to walk on and they
helped me become who I am today," said Hill. "I couldn't have asked for a
better ending [to my career], individually. You just can't script it much
Walking replaced Hill with two outs in the seventh inning and Penn State
leading, 1-0, and did what he had done his whole career at Penn State: throw
sliders and get outs.
Then, Lewis battled a tough Spartan lineup to toss the final two innings of the
season and his career.
It was an adequate end, not only because the three seniors were able to throw
consecutively in their last game in blue and white, but because of the way they
embodied the work ethic of the Penn State pitching staff as a whole.
They battled. Pitchers came into the game in tough spots and fought their way
Redshirt sophomore T.J. Jann also embodied that mentality, returning to the
hill in 2013 after what was thought to be a career ending arm injury during his
true freshman season in 2011. Jann was the Friday night starter for the Nittany
Lions throughout season and arguably the top pitcher on the staff.
Junior Greg Welsh erased a tough start to the season and finished the year with
a string of impressive starts, including a complete game shutout win against
Michigan State in the second game of the season's final series.
Freshman starter Nick Hedge and junior reliever Ian Parvin showed grit during
the season as did the entire Penn State bullpen.
The returning pitchers will have a tough task replacing Hill, Lewis and
Walkling, but certainly know what it takes to have a successful career at Penn
State. It starts with the bulldog mentality that Hill embodied in his four
years in blue and white.
"In [Hill's] four years here he has been outstanding for us," said assistant
coach Eric Folmar. "He's given us the chance to win every time out and is going
to be a hard one to not have around next year."
Lewis and Walking had similar praise from their coaches and teammates
throughout the season. Both seniors have confidence in the Lions pitching staff
Players on the current roster and the incoming freshman class will all have to
step up in 2014 in order to continue what the senior pitching staff built over
the past four years at Penn State.
"We have some guys that are on our team that are going to have to move into different
roles next year," said Folmar. "We also have some incoming recruits that are
going to have the opportunity to win a job as true freshmen."
The coaching staff is looking to take what they had in 2013 and continue to
build on it. From a pitching stand point, Folmar said that the biggest thing is
being able to make the pitch or get the outs they need in close games and that
will make a huge difference moving forward.
Despite the 14-36 record, Penn State will look at the bright spots that are
both leaving and returning for Penn State, which is great motivation as they
begin preparation for 2014 almost immediately.
"Today's game is great motivation heading into next year," said Folmar. "This
season is done and next year has already started for us. It is great motivation
because we never want to be back here again."
By Mike Esse, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff
PARK, Pa. - Heading into the 2013 season, head coach Robbie Wine and his staff
had a lot of open spots in their lineup, but knew they had a pair of anchors in
seniors Luis Montesinos and Elliot Searer to lead the charge.
no surprise, the two captains did exactly that as they hit in the top five of
the batting order throughout the season and were a pair of the most reliable
offensive weapons for the Nittany Lions.
and Montesinos teamed up with sophomore designated hitter J.C. Coban to lead
the Lions in doubles with seven each while being three of the top four hitters in
terms of average on the team.
trio wasn't a surprise for the Nittany Lions, but the player who joined them in
the top four in batting average was.
All-Big Ten Freshman Team pick James Coates started from day one and
contributed from the outset, becoming a hit machine for the Nittany Lions,
especially when Big Ten play rolled around.
finished the year tied for the team lead in batting average (.295) and hits
(51) with Coban and led the team in runs scored (27), stolen bases (10) and on
base percentage (.392).
Coates, Searer and Montesinos all played 48 or more games in 2013 and adding
the impact of junior centerfielder Steve Snyder, who started all 50 games,
there was consistency atop the Nittany Lions order.
of those four players, a number of Nittany Lions contributed in various roles
during 2013. As a team, the Nittany Lions finished the year with a.258 batting
average, which Montesinos wasn't discouraged by.
Penn State had their chances to flip the script in a number of games, playing 21
games that were decided by two or fewer runs, but it was more Penn State's
inability to come through offensively in close games that stood out to the
always want more, but we wish we could have put our hits together instead of
scattering them throughout the [season]," said Montesinos. "I feel like
offensively we were alright, we just needed a little more in some of the games
we lost by one or two runs."
the end of the season brought a number of positives for Penn State as they look
ahead to the 2014 season.
have seen some of these guys start to swing the bat really well over the past
few weeks," said Searer.
agreed, especially with another freshman, third baseman Tyler Kendall, who had
a hot bat to close his first season in the blue and white.
guys like Coates, Kendall and a number of sophomores that contributed in their
first two seasons, offensively, things are looking up in the coming years.
feel confident because [our young guys] have played a lot of baseball and have
had a lot of at-bats under their belts, especially in James [Coates] and Tyler
[Kendall]," said assistant coach Eric Folmar. "There's no question that we have
a lot of guys coming back that should be able to lead this team next year."
Searer, as his career came to a close, he looked at the future of Penn State
baseball starting with the freshman Coates.
satisfied with the way my career ended and the other guys should be, too," said
Searer. "We now pass the torch to guys like [Coates and Kendall] to turn things
around the next couple years.
believe in these guys, they bleed blue and white and so does everyone else in
that locker room. That's the Penn State culture and [the love for this
university] is what's going to take us over the top."
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.
On 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
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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
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
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
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."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In a season that has
featured its fair share of ups and downs, Penn State (12-34, 3-18 Big Ten) enters
the final week of the college baseball regular season with optimism. Even after
dropping their series at Illinois (31-15, 12-9 Big Ten) last weekend the
Nittany Lions are focused on closing out the year on a high note.
A pair of narrow losses on Saturday and Sunday followed a series-opening shutout
loss on Friday night at Illinois, but the ability to bounce back has been
something this group of Lions has shown all season.
The Lions have three come-from-behind wins, but there are at least a handful of
games that have seen Penn State close the gap late in the game and put
themselves in a position to win the game.
"We've had a tough year, but our kids are still battling," said assistant coach
Eric Folmar. "They work hard and they play hard. They get after it and there's
no quit in these guys. There is no doubt that are ability to rally late in
games is a credit to our guys not giving up."
That ability to keep a steady temperament was on full display Saturday in
Champaign, Ill. when Penn State found themselves down, 7-1, in the third inning
after being shutout, 9-0, in the series opener. The Lions kept that fighters
mentality that Folmar mentioned and eventually brought the go-ahead run to the
plate in the ninth inning of an 8-6 setback.
"Even when we are down [our guys] are still out there fighting," Folmar said.
"They don't throw at-bats away, they just keep competing. A lot of teams just shut
it down when they are struggling, but our guys just continue to battle."
On Sunday some late offense by the Illini gave them a 5-4 lead entering the
ninth. However, nothing changed for the Nittany Lions, who put a pair of base
runners on before UI closer Bryan Roberts induced a game-ending double play to
close out the contest.
An error led to the eventual game winning run in Sunday's game and a couple of
errors on Saturday led to runs for Illinois, as well. Errors are one thing that
has hurt this team in 2013. The misplays lead to more opportunities for the
opposition on offense and this group knows that they can't give extra outs to
"When you look at a lot of our games this season it seems like there is one
inning in each game that has haunted us," said assistant coach Eric Folmar. We
keep telling our guys is that we have to eliminate mistakes."
The Nittany Lions saw some of the aforementioned mistakes come into play in
each game over the weekend at Illinois. In Friday's loss, a mental error with
two outs allowed the Illini's time at bat to be prolonged and the home squad
took advantage, scoring seven runs in the inning.
"If you go back to the Friday game, Illinois scored all of their runs in two
innings," said Folmar, "so the big inning hurt us, again. The Friday score was
a little misleading and we just came out [on Saturday and Sunday] and our guys
believed we could win both of those games."
Those big innings, when four or more runs are scored, have been a bugaboo for the
Blue and White all season. They know there's not reset button to push when big
innings happen, but if you look at their games and take away the big innings
this team has been in nearly every game they have played this season.
Penn State has played 10, one-run games this season and nearly half of their
games, 20, have been decided by two or fewer runs. This team knows the
importance of moving on quickly from a mistake and the coaching staff continues
to instill this into their players.
With the Illinois series now in the rearview mirror, Penn State turns its
attention to a four-game homestand to close out the 2013 campaign.
Sophomore Patton Taylor will take the mound vs. Villanova (11-39) in a Tuesday
afternoon matinée at 3:35 p.m. before the Blue and White try to send their nine
seniors - eight players and one manager - out in style against Michigan State
(29-16, 10-8 Big Ten) in a three-game series that begin on Thursday, May 16 at
6:05 p.m. inside Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
"We are going to go out and get after it at practice [on Monday]," said Folmar,
"and we are going to keep fighting and keep battling this week. The most
important thing for us is to make sure we send our nine seniors out on a good
note. We want to make sure they can remember these last four game for the rest
of their lives. We have to make sure we finish on a positive note and send
these seniors out the right way."
By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
PARK, Pa. - Penn State was thinking long-term when it hired new strength
training coach Jamie Burleson. The
addition gives the Nittany Lions an important edge playing in the Big Ten and
on against some of the nation's top teams.
a winning baseball program requires combining a variety of different
elements. While recruiting may provide
the foundation for success, it's strength and conditioning that creates the
structure around which these players grow and prosper as athletes.
Burleson to the staff was an important step for Penn State moving forward
according to head coach Robbie Wine.
another motivator, another person that these guys can look to in a different
area," said head coach Robbie Wine. "The
players respect him and [strength and conditioning] is an area that we were
lacking for a long time."
to joining the Nittany Lions in 2013, Burleson was a part of two prestigious baseball
programs at the University of South Carolina and the University of Florida,
where he learned the techniques that are implemented by teams consistently
competing at the highest level.
just brought that extra edge that we've been missing," said sophomore catcher
J.C. Coban. "Knowing he came from an SEC
program, South Carolina and Florida, he's got experience. He knows what he's talking about."
an additional coach who can focus on developing the strength and stamina of
each player by creating individualized training regimens will give Penn State a
key advantage heading into the season.
brings with him a concrete and proven training program that will keep players
healthy during the long and arduous season, as well as enhance their strength
and conditioning to meet the standards for a top-tier college baseball program. It's a long-term process, but the players
have already seen results.
think that over the course of this season, even just one semester, the guys
have become better athletes and I think that that's going to benefit these
younger guys," said senior third baseman Elliot Searer. "It's just good overall to have him on
of the main focuses for Burleson's program is to enhance movement and speed to
match the pace of college baseball. He
does this by implementing strength exercises that will help outfielders when
reading fly balls and increase the range of infielders on groundballs.
really focusing more on explosive strength and explosive exercises because of
the pace of college baseball today," said Burleson. "It's a fast-paced, explosive game, so we've
tried to bring that in and include some speed improvement."
the season, Burleson's focus will be on keeping the players healthy with
exercises that will increase their stamina, strengthen critical arm areas, like
their rotator cuffs, and keep their bodies loose and flexible.
a grueling season," said Searer.
"There's a lot of wear and tear [on your body] and you have to take good
care of your body. Jamie has really
brought something to the table that we haven't seen before here."
a long-term program that will begin the moment the 2013 season ends. Burleson will develop personalized training
schedules for each player that they will be expected to fulfill during the
off-season in order to succeed.
the next year, as soon as these guys leave from here, they'll be given a summer
manual that I'll put together," said Burleson.
"It will consist of three days of lifting and two days of conditioning
that they're expected to do for the next three months over the summer."
the players return in the fall, Burleson will work them hard to prepare them
for the upcoming season.
really take charge in the fall and they'll be working hard in the weight room
to try and get that to carry over into next season," said Burleson. "It's long-term in that it's a year-round
addition to a well-designed strength and conditioning program, Burleson brings
a work-hard, never-give-up mentality that he hopes will motivate the Nittany
Lions both on and off the field.
trying to encourage these guys each and every day in the weight room and trying
to get that to spill over onto the field," said Burleson. "Because of the nature of the season, it's a
long year, and you're going to be faced with some difficult situations and no
matter what happens you have to stay positive."
coaches and players are excited to have him with the team. Burleson is a
competitor and he understands what it takes to be successful.
wants to win," said Coban. "He saw South
Carolina win. He saw Florida win. He wants us to win too, so I feel like it's a
great addition for us."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
was a precarious situation the Nittany Lions found themselves in; bases loaded,
no outs in the bottom of the tenth inning in a tie game. Penn State (12-30,
3-15 Big Ten) got out of the jam unscathed and flipped the script on Minnesota
(28-15, 11-4 Big Ten), loading the bases with no out before a Tyler Skerpon
fielders choice pushed the game winning run across the plate.
If you were in the stands at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park you could feel the
momentum begin to shift in the sixth inning when the Lions tied the game at 3-3
with a pair of runs and when Neal Herring got out of the bases loaded jam in
the tenth inning, you knew that it was a now or never moment.
"The pitching feeds off the defense, which feeds off the hitting," said senior Luis
Montesinos. "Everything feeds off the other and when [the pitchers] are doing
well [the hitters] are going to take that confidence to the plate."
The team fed off of each other down the stretch in the series final against Minnesota.
After starting pitcher Steven Hill allowed a pair of runs in the top of the
sixth inning it looked like the Lions were headed towards a sixth straight loss,
but that was not the case.
J.C. Coban and Skerpon got the bottom of the sixth inning started with a single
and a walk, respectively. James Coates followed with his fourth infield single of
the year and when Gophers third baseman Ryan Abrahamson's throw went wide of
the first baseman, Coban and Skerpon were both able cross the plate to tie
Both team's threatened during the next four innings, but it wasn't until
Skerpon stepped to the plate in the tenth that someone was able to end the
battle of wills.
"I've been struggling a little bit lately," said Skerpon, "but going into my
last at-bat I told [Coban], 'if you don't do it, I'm going to'. I just went to
the plate wanting to hit the ball hard somewhere. The corners were playing in
and I obviously didn't hit it very hard, but I did my best to beat it out and it
The sophomore was 0-for-3 with a walk entering his fifth plate appearance of
the afternoon, but the confidence never wavered and he delivered one of the biggest
hits of his young career.
In life you do your best work when you feel comfortable; it's the same way in baseball.
On Sunday, the Lions entered the series final with a comfortable feeling at the
plate and it showed as they out-hit the Gophers, 8-7, and put base runners on
in seven of the ten innings.
Wine felt like his team had played well offensively all weekend, especially
against a pitching staff as deep as Minnesota's. The Gophers do not allow many
big innings and have limited opponents to 4.6 runs per game this season and own
a Big Ten-best .230 batting average against, however, Penn State never felt
uneasy in the batter's box.
"We are a team that is going hustle and play hard," said Skerpon. "We are
always working hard, everyone is up early working in the weight room, doing
conditioning and getting in swings. That's one thing we stress before every
game to make sure that you are locked in and playing hard on every pitch."
Now the Lions have to carry that momentum into the final two weeks of the
regular season. With just eight games left on the schedule, Penn State will
play four straight road games, before closing the year with four straight at
home and are looking to keep this momentum going down the stretch.
"We just have to keep moving forward," said Skerpon. "We saw some pretty good
pitching from Minnesota this weekend and the bats started to come alive a
little bit. We just have to keep playing out game, getting on base, moving
runners, stealing bases and playing solid defensively."
The effort has been there, but sometimes baseball is about catching - or making
- a break or two and the Lions made their own breaks on Sunday and were able to
end the weekend on a high note.
"I have been really happy with our effort," said Wine. "Sometimes things just
haven't gone our way, but today we just went out there and reacted and it
worked out for us."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (11-30,
2-15 Big Ten) dropped their second straight contest to Minnesota (28-14, 11-3
Big Ten) on Saturday inside Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, but the final score
of 7-3 didn't damper the spirits or reveal the positives that have been
building in the Nittany Lions clubhouse.
Penn State was again stung by an early onslaught of offense from the Gophers,
who tallied all seven of their runs between the second and fourth innings, but
three PSU relievers combined to throw the final five innings scoreless and the
offense was able to put pressure on the Gophers, even though they were unable
to capitalize on opportunities against one of the best pitching staffs in the
That wasn't an excuse for the players, however, as they know they need continue
to relax, take it one pitch at a time and keep pushing forward with just nine
game left in the 2013 season.
"The effort is there," said senior Cody Lewis. "I have no doubt about that. Sometimes
we play a little tight and put [the game] on a pedestal and try too hard, instead
of playing loose and just letting the game come to us. Sometimes we [think too
much] and that gets in the way. We just have to go out and play our game."
That is something that Lewis did on Saturday as the first reliever out of the
bullpen versus Minnesota. Entering the game out of the bullpen to start the
fifth inning, Lewis retired nine of the first 11 batters he faced and fired three
and two-thirds innings of scoreless work. He tied his career-high with five
strikeouts, four of the looking variety, and allowed just five base runners.
"Cody struggled with an injury last year, but he's past that now," said head
coach Robbie Wine. "He changed his arm angle and he's always been a competitor.
He's been one of our main guys [out of the bullpen] and he came in today in a
game that was far from over and kept putting up zeroes for us. He's been doing
his job [all year]."
Another player that has been doing his job is junior Alex Farkes. The catcher was
able to put some good swings on the ball, but had nothing to show for it, which
ended his 10-game hitting streak, but it is the little things that he does that
stand out to his coaches.
"Farkes has done a good job," said Wine. "He's been throwing and receiving the ball
well, and he's really taking charge behind the plate. As a coach you see things
he is doing that the everyday fan might not see. His big thing has been
building confidence and taking control of the pitching staff. He's also a great
guy in the dugout and the clubhouse"
For Farkes, it has been about getting back to the fundamentals and getting a
chance to play every day. He has already set career-bests in a host of
offensive categories and is hitting .247 15 runs scored and nine RBIs. He made
his career-high 25th start on Saturday and has played in 30 of the team's 41
games and is fielding almost .980.
"I've been trying to keep it simple and just make solid contact," said Farkes. "Seeing
opposing pitchers on a consistent basis has been huge, too. You start to feel
good at the plate and you're not trying to prove too much [when you get to play
every day]. It helps the game slow down a little bit and makes it fun."
Farkes, Lewis and the rest of the Nittany Lions will try to get back on track
in the series finale with Minnesota on Sunday starting at 12:05 p.m.
The Blue and White will send senior Steven Hill to the mound for his tenth
start of the season and coach Wine knows his team needs a strong outing from
Hill to help the team build some momentum down the stretch.
"We are going to get back to the basics and find the fun in the game," said
Wine. "We are hoping Steve [Hill] goes out there and keep us in the game early...We're
not playing bad, but it just feels like we are climbing a mountain right now.
We need to get some momentum early and build on it."