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9257392.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Most young baseball players hoping to hear their names called during the MLB draft are glued to their televisions and smartphones, trembling with anticipation. It's the moment all of their hard work leads up to and a day never to be forgotten for a handful of aspiring players.

 

That moment came for Penn State alumna Jack Anderson on the third and final day of the 2016 draft, but he didn't even know it at the time.

 

Anderson was actually swimming while on vacation with a few teammates in Palm Beach, Florida when the Seattle Mariners selected him in the 23rd round with the 687th pick. He found out from his old coach Rob Cooper.

 

Cooper called Anderson after hearing the news to congratulate his former closer. He had no idea he would be breaking the news to Anderson for the first time.

 

Anderson then realized he missed a call from a Mariners scout and quickly called back in excitement. He and the rest of the crew celebrated that night as Anderson returned home the next day to a surprise party at his house.

 

Anderson spent his first professional year bouncing from A-ball in Seattle, Washington to the rookie league in Peoria, Arizona He spent most of the year in the rookie level before getting called up for the Everett AquaSox playoff run.

 

In 21 innings pitched, Anderson surrendered just four earned runs in his rookie season for a 1.71 ERA between both teams. He was a key contributor to the Mariners' rookie team winning the Arizona League championship.

 

As is typical for minor leaguers, Anderson finds himself far away from his home in Chicago, Illinois. His living arrangements have varied from host families to hotels.

 

While in Seattle, Anderson stayed with a host family who lived right next to a lake. They even had a jet ski for his amusement. In Peoria, however, Anderson lived in a small Hampton Inn with one roommate. You never know what you're going to get as a minor league ballplayer.

 

"Life has been a whirlwind ever since I got drafted, moving place to place, but it's all been good stuff. It's been fun," Anderson said.

 

On the field, Anderson is working on adding a changeup to his repertoire to compliment his sidearm, frisbee-like slider. He also wants to become more of a multi-inning pitcher next season.

 

Anderson continues to improve each year by adding new wrinkles to his game and flat-out working harder than anyone. He did just that in his four years in Happy Valley, and he hasn't slowed down.

 

At Penn State Anderson improved his ERA and increased his total appearances each year. He closed out his career with the most appearances in Nittany Lion history with 98. His 25 saves is also a school record.

 

Anderson isn't just reliable, though. He was a shut-down closer virtually his entire Penn State career. He didn't allow one home run in college and did the same in his first professional season.

 

"I just think that Jack has really worked hard and understands who he is as a pitcher, and he really relishes that role of pitching to contact and getting ground balls," Cooper said. "If you understand who you are and you don't try to do too much you can have a lot of success."

 

A lot of Anderson's steady improvement over the last few years is a credit to Cooper and pitching coach Brian Anderson. He gives both coaches plenty of praise for his accomplishments in college.

"[Cooper] really pushed the mental game on us," Anderson said. "That was a big time adjustment for me, and I think that the mental game is always going to push baseball players over the edge. He really pushed that on me."

 

With the guidance of Cooper and a strong work ethic, Anderson has a realistic opportunity to climb the ranks in the minor leagues and make a splash for the Mariners.

 

He may not have that special moment of hearing his name called on draft day, but Anderson is living out his lifelong dream of playing professional baseball.

Penn State Alumnus Climbing Minor League Ranks

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Major League Baseball draft is unlike any other in the realm of sports.

 

Roger Goodell calls the names of more than 250 lucky football prospects throughout seven rounds. The NBA draft features just two rounds and 60 total players. There's effectively no margin for error.

 

For the MLB, it's wildly different. Thousands of players every year get the call they've been dreaming of since they could barely fit a glove on their tiny hands.

 

One of those players is Penn State alumnus Johnny Walter, who got that call in 2012. The Kansas City Royals were on the line.

 

Walter was drafted in the 29th round and decided to forgo his senior season in Happy Valley to fulfill his lifelong dream. It was a moment he'll cherish forever, but he knows his journey is only beginning.

 

The minor league system can be a cruel process, knocking you down right when you thought you had a shot to surpass the next hurdle. The multitude of levels and constant traveling can be as taxing on someone as a regular 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. job.

 

It takes years to climb from one level to the next. Just ask Walter.

 

He has played for various teams in four different levels of minor league ball and was released twice in his four years in the system. But he kept fighting.

 

Walter was picked up by the St. Louis Cardinals a full year after being released from the Cincinnati Reds in 2015 and has finally found a home, he says.

 

Walter reached Double-A for the Springfield Cardinals this past summer. He bounced around from Single-A to Double-A and back, but he's currently still with Springfield.

 

"I learned basically my first outing in Double A that they just don't miss fastballs," Walter said. "They're a lot more discipline hitters. It's the biggest jump I've experienced so far from high A to double A."

 

For Walter, the nonstop jumping around from team to team and city to city isn't all that bad. He has relished the opportunity to play in historic places like Lexington, Kentucky for the Royals and Springfield, Missouri for the Cardinals.

 

Throughout his minor league career, Walter has posted a 13-14 record to the tune of a 3.86 ERA. He has struck out 166 batters in 200.2 innings on the hill.

 

Although Walter has made strides to climb the ranks in the minors, he's still working toward achieving his goals off the field. Walter is currently back on campus working toward finishing his degree in supply chain with a minor in MIS.

 

Walter is in the midst of his final semester. It has taken some time because the baseball season eats up a chunk of the school schedule, but Walter is determined to finish what he started six years ago.

 

"I definitely just value my education and I think that's something my parents instilled in me when I was younger, so just to work hard and finish what you start anyway."

 

Failure is not something anyone wants to have in their mind when working toward their dreams, but the harsh reality of the minor leagues puts players in the position to take into account life after baseball.

 

Walter doesn't know when that'll come, but when it does he'll be prepared to lift himself back up and conquer the world from a different perspective.

 

"I definitely know I need a backup plan because even if I'm in the big leagues next year and have a 10-year career, that's just 10 years of your life," Walter said. "And that's a very long career, too, so it's always good to have a backup plan."

 

Walter has been working out with the Penn State team while in town. He can be found in the weight room or studying, sometimes right in the locker room.

 

Head coach Rob Cooper arrived in State College a year after Walter departed for the minors, so he was never able to coach him. Cooper has only been accustomed to Walter through his workouts at Medlar Field and his presence in the locker room in the offseason, but that presence is extremely valued by him and the team.

 

"He does a really good job of talking to [the current players] about what pro ball is like and he's a very determined guy," Cooper said. "I wish I would've gotten to coach him."

 

Cooper has never seen Walter in game action, but simply watching him throw a few bullpens has Cooper optimistic about Walter's future.

 

"He has got a chance," Cooper said. "He has just got to keep going out there when he gets his opportunities and getting it done. If he does that he's got a chance to continue to play."    

Anderson Breaks All-Time Saves Record in Maryland Series

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (25-20) dropped two of three to Big Ten foe Maryland (24-19) and now rests in seventh place in the conference over the weekend.

In the second game of the series, senior closer Jack Anderson completed a four-out save to place himself among Penn State's all-time elite relief pitchers. The save marked the 23rd of his career, breaking the record for most saves in school history.

"It's an honor to have my name in there," Anderson said. "But I think saves are really more of a team stat and a team record because I wouldn't be put in that position if I didn't have great guys around me. It's kind of a record that I hope is broken fairly shortly because then it would mean we're winning a lot of games and staying really competitive in the near future."

"This is the oldest sport on campus, and he's the all-time saves leader. That's a pretty cool thing," said head coach Rob Cooper.

Anderson has registered a 0.63 ERA this season, which would rank as the lowest in the country if he were qualified. He has pitched 42.2 innings in Penn State's 45 games, but Anderson would need to match his innings total with the team's games played to be qualified for lowest ERA.

In the opening game of the series, Penn State's bats were quieted by Maryland's starting pitcher Mike Shawaryn in a 7-1 loss. Shawaryn pitched a complete game and held PSU to four hits while striking out six.

"It was a well-pitched game by him," Cooper said. "But I thought our guys continued to stay in the game, continued to battle, and we competed. We got to have a short-term memory and turn around tomorrow."

Seemingly the only Nittany Lion to find success against the hard throwing right hander was second baseman Connor Klemann. He ripped a double and a single in his first two at-bats, but PSU couldn't capitalize on either opportunity.

"You got to hit early in the count because when you get late in the count [Shawaryn] mixes it up real good," said Klemann. "The key for that guy was just jumping on stuff early."

Klemann has started only 16 games and has appeared in 21 this season, but he has been productive when he's on the field. The freshman owns a .315 batting average and has totaled 17 hits in his first year.

Nick Riotto and Ryan Sloniger were the only other Nittany Lions to notch hits in the game, and Tyler Kendal provided the team's lone RBI. Riotto, in his first game back from a hand injury that kept him out a few games, also made a full-stretch diving catch in the first inning to save a run.

Taylor Lehman started on the hill for the Blue and White and pitched four innings, giving up three earned runs and five total. Tom Mullin added four innings of relief and held the Terrapins scoreless until an eighth inning homerun.

"I'm so proud of [Mullin]. He pitched his tail off," Cooper said. "He went a big chunk of the season without seeing the mound, and he kept working and kept fighting. He kept us in that game."

Penn State came out with a sense of urgency in game two. It wasn't until the 22nd batter of game one that PSU was able to get a run across. In game two, it only took one batter and one swing.

On the sixth pitch Riotto saw, the junior belted an inside fastball over the right field wall to waste no time getting Penn State on the board. It was his second homerun of the season.

Riotto and Jim Haley led the charge with two hits apiece in game two. They have the highest batting averages among PSU starters in 2016.

It wasn't until the eighth inning when PSU was able to tack on an insurance run, but that was enough to pull out the 2-0 shutout.

Starter Sal Biasi turned in a solid performance to improve his record to 5-4 on the season. Biasi pitched five and two-thirds innings, surrendering four walks but holding the Terps scoreless.

In relief, Dakota Forsyth tallied two innings behind Biasi and Anderson closed the door for the save. It marked Anderson's Big Ten leading 11th save of the season.

Maryland threw the first punch in game three of the weekend series. The Terrapins tallied four runs in the first four innings off PSU starter Justin Hagenman and cruised to an 8-3 victory.

Hagenman suffered only his second loss of the season. He pitched an effective six innings giving up just two earned runs, but a few errors in the early innings and another silent offensive game doomed the Nittany Lions.

Throughout the game, Penn State totaled four errors that led to four unearned runs, but Hagenman still kept PSU in the game. Hagenman has gotten used to dealing with errors all season. Out of the 40 runs he has allowed this year, 18 of them are unearned.

"It doesn't faze him," Cooper said. "He does it the way you want most of your pitchers to do it, like 'Hey you know what, now I got a chance to pick up my infielder.' He's very mature and he understands that's not in his control."

The offense struggled yet again as Maryland starter Brian Shaffer recorded the win, surrendering only four hits and two runs in seven innings of work. Maryland needed just five pitchers the entire series.

The Nittany Lion bats managed just four hits total in game three and five runs in the series. Greg Guers led Penn State with two hits in game three, while James Coates and Willie Burger recorded RBIs.

Burger's two RBIs over the weekend pushed total to 32 on the year. He leads the team in that category even though the freshman missed 15 games due to injury.

The Nittany Lions have five days off to prepare for perennial powerhouse TCU's visit to Happy Valley next weekend. The Horned Frogs stand at 29-11 and are ranked ninth in the country.


Strong Pitching Holds Nittany Lions from a Win

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11904436.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball was back at Medlar Field on Wednesday facing Kent State for the second time this season.

The two teams played against each other exactly one week ago at Schoonover Stadium, with the Golden Flashes coming out on top in both games. With a late scoring by the Nittany Lions in the bottom of the eighth, the home team came up short falling 6-2.


The visiting team was first on the board in the top of the third inning, with a RBI single by Mason Mamarella. The centerfielder made the last pitch on a full count matter, cranking the ball into right field. Runner on base Luke Burch made it home after advancing to second on a ball and third on a wild pitch.

Mamarella got the next tally two batters later on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Dylan Rosa.


With four innings down and two runs on the board, Penn State's Eli Nabholz stepped up to the pitcher's mound to relieve starter Nick Hedge. In the top of the fifth, Rosa swung on the second pitch for a two run RBI single passing a diving Jim Haley at shortstop. Teammates Reilly Hawkins and Burch got the tallies making the score 4-0 Kent. 

Pete Schuler was up next, hitting the same spot getting on first base after an infield error by Haley. Zalewski came off of second, picking up speed to make it home for the fifth run of the game. 

Mamarella got his second RBI with a single that resulted in a triple. The batter singled a line driver into right field, later advancing to second then third on a fielding error by James Coates.  Making this the final run for the Golden Flashes in the top of the sixth.

A change in the lineup was in favor of the home team, as relief pitcher Eli Martin started the top of the eighth inning. Haley was first on base finding the sweet spot in centerfield for a single. Tyler Kendall followed shortly after with another hit to left center, advancing Haley to third.

It wasn't until two-time Big Ten Freshman of the Week Willie Burger stepped up to the plate to get a pair of runs for the Nittany Lions. The idea of a comeback shook Kent State, bringing in new pitcher Tim Faix for the last batter of the inning.

The Flashes saw three Nittany Lion pitchers in the span of three innings during the latter stages of the game. Nick Distasio came in for relief in the sixth, while Tom Mullin followed shortly after in the seventh, staying until the eighth. The game finished with Tim Scholly stepping in as the fifth and final pitcher for Penn State, holding the opponents until the end.

"We didn't do well getting on base to begin. Got to have opportunities to score runners," said Head Coach Rob Cooper about the teams' performance. "Their guy [Joey Murray] did a good job keeping us off balance."

Coach Cooper said that it was Murray's late life in his curve balls that threw off batters at the plate. Making the players chase for the balls. The winning pitcher had nine strikeouts and allowed four hits. Keeping the Lions of the boards for a sold seven innings.

"It was good, he had two different arm angles," said Tyler Kendall. "I think as a group we kind of let fast balls early and some breaking balls left. We were taking and put us in some holes. We're going to learn from it. Come back tomorrow, practice it, and be ready for the weekend."

As for the many faces at the pitcher's mound for Penn State, Cooper said that it was an initial plan to take Hedge out early in the game and have pitchers like Mullin and Scholly get more playing time.

"We wanted Hedge to get another start. Eli we knew we wanted him to touch the ball..." Cooper said. "We said all along that we got a deep bench and a lot of young guys that haven't as much playing time as they would like. Just trying to get some guys off their feet."

Both Cooper and players noted that Wednesday's game was not their best performance. With four fielding errors, the Nittany Lions are looking to reduce this number when playing Maryland in the next series.

"As a whole it was kind of a sloppy game. They're a good hitting team and they're a great pitching team, spotting them a couple of walks, errors, and some base running errors was not part of our game plan," Kendall said. "But it happens, its baseball. Everybody that made errors tonight is a good player and will come back tomorrow with confidence."

"At the end of the days it comes down to us. Come down to us taking care of ourselves, and it comes down to making sure that we do the things that we need to do," Cooper said. "Pitch well, get ahead of guys, and find a way to score. If we do that, it'll take us up against anything."

The first game of the Maryland series will start Friday at 6:30 p.m. 

Lions Plate Five Runs in First, Complete Season Sweep of Bucknell

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11883917.jpegBy Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (23-14) defeated Bucknell (16-24) by a score of 9-5 Tuesday night for its sixth straight victory and second over the Bison in a week.

The Nittany Lions handed Bucknell a loss just six days earlier, 8-1.

Penn State wasted no time getting ahead on the offensive end. In the first inning, the Nittany Lions scored five runs on three hits and three walks and ousted Bison starter P.J. Strahm before he could record even two outs.

"Even though we scored five, you still got to play the rest of the game," said head coach Rob Cooper. "I do think it helped kind of take a little bit of energy and kind of put them down a little bit emotionally, but you got to keep playing and you got to respect the game. Otherwise this game is going to jump up and bite you."

Starter Eli Nabholz held Bucknell hitless for the first three innings and ended up with the win to improve his 2016 record to 2-0. Nabholz lasted five innings, giving up just two hits and one run while striking out five.

"I felt good," Nabholz said. "I was just working with [coach Brian Anderson] during the week trying to get a little more confidence in hitting spots. That was the game plan today. Just to go out and see results kind of reflect on some of the work you've been doing is good."

Nick Distasio relieved Nabholz in the sixth inning and gave up four runs in two innings, three of which came on an inside-the-park homerun by Joe Ogren in the seventh inning.

Jack Anderson came in to close out the game and notched his ninth save of the season. He's tied for ninth in the country for most saves in 2016 and he leads the Big Ten in saves and ERA (0.72).

Greg Guers continued his onslaught of opposing pitchers by smacking two hits and adding an RBI on the night. Guers is 15-21 in his last five games with nine RBIs, and his batting average has risen from .189 in early April to .320 currently.

"It seems like every time I swing the bat it's finding a hole somewhere so that's always good," said Guers. "You just stick to the same approach you've been having, and it's been working so I'm not adjusting it too much right now."

For his spectacular efforts in the past week, Guers earned Big Ten Player of the Week and NCBWA National Hitter of the Week honors.

"It's awesome to see," Cooper said. "Even when he was struggling, we still trusted him in the middle of that lineup. His success right now started back a month and a half ago when he kept with that process and he kept with that approach. If he had just kind of scrapped everything then I don't know if he's where he is so I'm extremely happy for him."

Also logging a strong night at the plate was freshman catcher Ryan Sloniger. Sloniger went 2-4 and tied a season high with four RBIs to lead the Blue and White in that category.

"I've been working with [coach Ross Oeder] a lot in the last few weeks, and I've felt a lot better in every game," Sloniger said. "Leading up to the night, I just wanted to barrel the ball and stay in the middle of the field."

Seniors James Coates and Tyler Kendall recorded multi-hit games in the win as well. The top four batters in the lineup (Coates, Jim Haley, Guers, and Kendall) reached base a combined 13 times and accounted for six of Penn State's nine runs.

The Nittany Lions have now won 11 straight games against Pennsylvania foes dating back to 2014. Penn State still has games scheduled against Pitt and Villanova later this season.

Penn State will travel south to face Kent State in another non-conference matchup Wednesday night. This weekend, the Nittany Lions will visit Piscataway, N.J. for a three game series against conference foe Rutgers. The Lions currently sit at fourth in the B1G with an 8-4 conference record, while Rutgers occupies the 11th spot with a 3-6 conference mark. 

Hagenman Bursting Onto the Scene Earlier than Expected

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The jump from high school ball to collegiate level competition can be daunting to most young pitchers.

The hitters in college are bigger, stronger, smarter, and flat out better than anyone a rising freshman pitcher has had to face in their lives. Most, if not all, freshman pitchers take a year to work on their game in practice and, if they're lucky, occupy a bullpen slot to warm up to the college game.  

But Justin Hagenman is not most freshman pitchers.

Hagenman has come to Happy Valley and immediately asserted himself as the ace of the Nittany Lion staff in year one. The quick leap and a sharp increase in talent hasn't fazed the 19-year-old from Voorhees, N.J., one bit.

"I don't think you should ever expect a true freshman to come in and be an ace because I don't think that's fair to that kid, but you don't ever put a limit on a guy," said head coach Rob Cooper. "If you come in with the mindset 'hey I just want to be [a part of] the roster or just want to get a few innings' well then you're slowing down your growth as a player, and it's something he hasn't done. He's a guy that wants to win and wants to compete and is doing a heck of a job of it."

Cooper and his coaching staff weren't exactly going after Hagenman hard when he was in high school at Bishop Eustace. They were looking more seriously at other players on his summer team and in the area when both his high school coach and summer coach approached Cooper and urged him to take a closer look at Hagenman.

Cooper did, and it sure has paid off.

In his first year in Blue and White Hagenman has started in eight games and boasts a 4-1 record, which is tops among Penn State's starting core. Hagenman has thrown a team high 52 innings to the tune of a 2.25 ERA, and he is third on the team with 27 strikeouts in 2016.

His 52 innings pitched is the fifth highest total in the Big Ten and his 2.25 ERA ranks ninth in the conference.

"He's just a silent assassin," Cooper said. "He's a competitor that just kind of goes about his business, and you look up at the end of the game and you've got a chance to win it. He's a lot of fun to coach because he takes a lot of responsibility to make himself better, he doesn't make excuses and he wants to help Penn State win."

"My goal was to come in here and be able to start games for Penn State," said Hagenman. "Not a numbers goal but being able to keep my team in games and give them a chance to win all the games that I started."

Hagenman has done just that and more for the Nittany Lions this season. Penn State has won six of his eight starts, and his only loss was to South Carolina, which ranks third in the country at 28-6. In that game, Hagenman held the Gamecocks to just two earned runs in 5.2 innings of work.

Hagenman was heavily influenced by his father, Dan, growing up. He learned everything about the game from his dad and gives all the credit to him.

"From the youngest age he was the one that got me into baseball," said Hagenman. "He coached me throughout and he's probably my best coach to this day. He's done everything on the baseball side of it."

No matter the situation, Hagenman has competed and put his team in a position to win every game he's started. There are no nerves. This kid is simply outperforming the expectations at his age.

"I think that's one of the best things that I can do. It's the controllables," said Hagenman. "Stuff like your emotions on the mound and attacking hitters, that stuff is all something that I can control. I can't really control whether they hit it, but I can trust my stuff and being able to go right at them is something that I can do."

Go right at them he has, and hit him they haven't.

Hagenman imprinted his name as a force to be reckoned with even before the season started. During Penn State's trip to Cuba in the fall, Hagenman became the first U.S. pitcher to earn a win over a Cuban National Series team in a matchup against Mayabeque. Hagenman allowed just one run and struck out three in his historical debut for the Nittany Lions.

He hasn't taken any steps back since that day. In fact, he's only improved. Of the 198 batters he's faced so far this season, Hagenman has walked only nine. There are seven pitchers on Penn State's roster who have surrendered more walks than Hagenman, and none of them have pitched more than 44 innings.

"It's an unbelievable stat," Cooper said. "It just shows that he goes after guys and he competes. He led off an inning with a walk and you could tell he wasn't happy with it, and that's because you're not used to it. The biggest thing is he just goes out and competes, and he believes in his team behind him and he believes in his ability."

"I just try to throw strikes and get ahead in the count," said Hagenman. "I'm inviting contact, so if they want to swing that's what we're going for."

That confidence is what has brought so much success to Hagenman so early on in his career. In turn, it has brought Penn State the success it hasn't produced in a while.

Penn State (19-14) is off to its best start since 2011. The Lions' 3.31 team ERA is approximately 1.82 runs lower than last season's and ranks 32nd nationally and third in the Big Ten.

Hagenman is undoubtedly one of the biggest reasons for this resurgence, and he'll be around for quite a while longer.

"Just being myself, that's the first thing [my coaches] told me when they were recruiting me and then when I got here. They don't want me to be anything that I'm not, and that's what I've done."



Bowersox's Walk-Off Seals Comeback Win in Second Frame of Doubleheader

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11860965.jpeg By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (18-14, 5-4) split a doubleheader with Big Ten-leading Michigan State (21-6, 5-1) on Sunday to get back to a winning record in conference play.

After dropping the first game of the day the Nittany Lions rallied from one run down in the ninth to win the series finale in walk-off fashion, 7-6. Jordan Bowersox was the hero of the day, knocking in Jim Haley for the game-winning run thanks to an error by the MSU second baseman.

With two outs and runners on first and second, Tyler Kendall laced a single to right field on the first pitch he saw that drove in Nick Riotto to tie the game at six.

"I was sitting on off-speed. They had been starting me off low and outside, but I took good at-bats all day with nothing to show for it," said Kendall. "I was just happy to get the next guy up. That's all I was trying to do."

That next guy up happened to be Bowersox, who ended the game with one swing.

"He threw me a fastball up and I just chopped in on the ground," Bowersox said. "I actually tripped coming out of the box. Luckily he threw it a little high and I was safe."

Riotto extended his hitting streak to nine games with a three-hit performance in game two. He also scored three runs and recorded two RBIs to lead the Blue and White.

Haley also smacked three hits in the game and scored the winning run. Riotto (.330) and Haley (.349) lead the team in batting average in 2016 and continue to produce at the plate.

Jack Anderson picked up the win in game two to improve his record to 3-1 on the year. He threw three innings in relief of Justin Hagenman, who struck out four and allowed three earned runs in six innings on the hill.

"He always battles," Anderson said of Hagenman. "He's learning more and more every start he takes. He's always battling out there. He's always shooting knees and mixing velocities. He's a stud and we all have a ton of confidence in him."

The Nittany Lions committed a season high five errors in the contest, including two in each of the sixth and eighth innings.

"We got to take care of the ball better," said head coach Rob Cooper. "We didn't value the baseball at all. We got to move our feet. We got to know when to not throw a baseball. No excuses, we got to play better defensively."

Penn State out-hit the Spartans 9-6 in the first game, but MSU capitalized on its few opportunities to pull out a 5-2 win.

Sal Biasi started on the mound for Penn State and lasted five innings, surrendering only one hit but allowing three runs. Biasi struck out six but suffered the loss to drop his record on the season to 3-4.

Nick Distasio and Marko Boricich each added two innings of relief and gave up a combined five hits and two runs.

James Coates and Ryan Sloniger each tallied two hits in game one. Seven different Nittany Lions recorded a hit in a balanced effort.

Freshman Connor Klemann, in just his third start of the season, singled in the second inning to score Jordan Bowersox for his third RBI on the year. MSU bounced back with an unearned run in the fourth inning to tie the game at one.

In the fifth, Haley knocked in Ryan Sloniger with a sacrifice fly for his team leading 21st RBI on the season. Michigan State scored two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings and held on to win the second game in the three game series.

The Nittany Lions return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park Wednesday to face Bucknell at 6:30 p.m. Penn State will then head to Evanston, Ill. for a three game series over the weekend against conference foe Northwestern.    


Lion Winning Streak Comes to a Close

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By Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball's winning streak came to a halt Friday night as Michigan State defeated the home team, 7-0, in the opener of the third conference series of the season.

The Spartans got on the board early in the top of the first with a RBI single from designated hitter Brandon Hughes. Teammate Jordan Zimmerman advanced to home from second base off the hit, getting the first tally.

The runs continued for the opposing team with a two-run RBI single in the top of the third by Taylor Grace and another RBI single in the top of the fourth by second baseman Dan Durkin, giving Michigan a four run lead.

The next three runs were driven in by two sacrifice flies into the outfield in the top of the seventh and eighth by Zimmerman and Justin Hovis. Hovis had the final run in the ninth inning after hitting a triple on the right field line, scoring off of a wild pitch.

Winning pitcher Cam Vieaux held the Nittany Lions from getting on the board, allowing only five hits and one walk. Nick Riotto led the home team with two hits into left center field, raising his batting average to .321.

"I don't really think about the batting average at all. I don't look at the board; I don't look at the stats. I would trade two hits for a win tonight," Riotto said.

Speaking for the team, Riotto said when facing Michigan he noticed a lot of aggressive hitters that like to hit and run, getting defense out of their positions. As for going into Sunday's doubleheader the team is staying optimistic, looking to comeback and get the series win.

"They're a good offensive team, but I think we can comeback, control that and be better," Riotto said. "We lost tonight, but that doesn't mean that we can't win a series. That's the ultimate goal right now."

Vieux pitched for seven innings and had six strikeouts. Relief pitchers Dakota Mekkes and Joe Mockbee came in for an inning each. Mockbee allowed the Nittany Lions last hit of the night with Jordan Bowersox's double into left field in the bottom of the ninth.

"The guy really commands both sides of the plate," said head coach Rob Cooper on Vieux. "He can throw a fast ball in or out. He has a real good breaking ball that is tough on righty's but really hard on lefty's."

A few adjustments that the team is looking to make before Sunday's games are figuring out how to manufacture runs. Coach Cooper said that pitching is also a focus, working hard to keep lead off hitters of every inning off the bag.

"I like the way that our kids have been playing and competing, but tonight [Michigan] out played us, in all facets," Cooper said. "We made two errors, we had a chance to turn some double plays and we didn't, that's big. Because that adds more pitches to a pitching count...we got to get our guys off the field when we have the opportunity to."

First game is set to start at 11 a.m. Sunday at Medlar Field with the second to begin 30 minutes after the last out.  

Riotto Stays Hot as Penn State Wins Seventh Straight

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (16-12) defeated in-state rival Pittsburgh (13-12), 7-0, on Tuesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park to stretch its current winning streak to seven games. The Nittany Lions have won 10 straight in State College.

Nick Riotto continued his hot play at the dish with a three hit night to extend his hitting streak to five games. During that streak Riotto has tallied 10 hits, five RBIs, and four runs scored.

The junior's batting average has elevated to .299, giving him the second highest mark on the team behind Jim Haley. Riotto now has 29 hits on the year, which is also second on the team to only Haley's 37.

"Every at-bat he competes," said head coach Rob Cooper. "He's always working and always trying to get better. It's a guy that you can count on that you know you're going to get his best effort every time up at the plate and that's important."

The danger Pittsburgh presents is its high scoring offense, but a trio of Penn State hurlers shut down the Panthers' bats convincingly.

Pitt is ranked fourth in the country in homeruns per game (1.33) and has smashed 32 total this season. The Panthers had scored 37 runs in their last four games combined and averaged 7.5 runs per game in 2016.

Starter Nick Hedge silenced a powerful lineup to just two hits in six innings of work. During one stretch he retired 10 straight batters before an error allowed Frank Maldonado to reach base in the fifth inning.

"He just went right after guys," said Cooper. "He was able to work both sides of the plate, and he was throwing his changeup and his breaking ball in there for strikes. His mound presence really dictated the whole thing."

"I kept to my same game, just keeping the ball low and trying to get a lot of ground balls and let the defense work behind me," Hedge said. "All three pitches were working, and I had a lot of trust in them."

Hedge picked up his third win of the season Tuesday night, lowering his ERA to 2.42 in the process, good for the second lowest among PSU starters. Dakota Forsyth added two innings in relief and Jared Fagnano closed out the game in the ninth. All three pitchers combined to allow just three hits and totaled nine strikeouts on the night.

Hedge got some early help from the offense courtesy of three first inning runs. Penn State's first three batters loaded the bases with three singles before Greg Guers drove in two runs with a double to right field.

A few pitches later Tyler Kendall skied a sacrifice fly to centerfield to add another tally. Kendall ended the night with a game-high three RBIs, pushing his total to 14 on the year.

"The thing that I love is that he's super aggressive," said Cooper. "Really the thing we've had to do with him is almost scale him back a little bit because he wants to win so bad. He wants to make something happen and he's got to know when to do it. Today was a good time to do it."

The Nittany Lions added four runs in the fifth inning on a Riotto RBI double for his third hit of the night and a Kendall single that scored two more. Kendall came in to score later in the inning on an error.

Penn State seeks to extend its win streak Wednesday against Lafayette at 3:30 p.m. The Nittany Lions will be back at Medlar Field on Friday to begin a three game series against conference foe Michigan State (19-5).



Unlikely Hero Completes the Series Sweep in Walk-Off Fashion

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By Jack Dougherty, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - All seemed finalized when Purdue's Brett Carlson poked a two-run single up the middle to give the Boilers a 6-4 lead in the top of the 12th inning Saturday night.

Penn State (15-12) had been at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park since 8 a.m. that morning for a doubleheader, and the fatigue was setting in. Settling for two out of three in a tight weekend series didn't seem too bad after 21 innings in one day, but Alex Malinsky had other plans.

The junior didn't record an at-bat the entire weekend, but he made the most of his only opportunity.

With one out and two runners on base in the bottom of the 12th and Penn State down one run, Malinsky stepped up to pinch hit. In just his 15th plate appearance of the season, Malinsky roped a line drive to the left-centerfield gap that easily scored the tying and winning runs. Malinsky was promptly mobbed at second base by his teammates.

"I just saw something I could drive," said Malinsky. "I just saw a ball up, I'm not even sure what it was to be honest. I saw a ball and went hacking at it."

"Alex Malinsky, it couldn't happen to a better guy," head coach Rob Cooper said. "A guy who cares, loves Penn State, works his tail off. Part of the reason our guys went bonkers out on the field is because it was him that did it. That's how much they love and care about him."

This game may very well be the defining moment for this scrappy team with a never say die attitude.

"It's unbelievable," Greg Guers said. "Especially after a long day, we're in the bottom of the 12th inning after giving up two runs, and we could've easily just shut it down. I can't even describe how much resiliency that we have after today."

"It's something that we talk about and work on it. We talk about being resilient," said Cooper. "Even when we were down two-nothing early in the game our guys just put their heads down and went back to work. Our guys didn't flinch. I'm just proud of them, I really am."

Jack Anderson recorded the win in the extra innings thriller in 4.2 innings of relief. Anderson logged his 85th career appearance in the game, which is tied for the most ever in Penn State history.

Earlier in the series, Tyler Kendall played hero with an RBI triple in the eighth inning to lead PSU to a 3-1 victory on Friday. Kendall went 3-4 in the game and had six total hits in the series to increase his 2016 batting average to .297.

"I've been working on little stuff in my swing with coach Oeder and Coop," said Kendall. "I felt really good before the game today. I was happy that I could step up."

Jordan Bowersox also had three hits on the night, marking his first career three-hit game. Taylor Lehman produced one of his best starts of the year with 6.1 innings of work, only allowing one run and striking out four.

The second game of the weekend was much more comfortable for the Nittany Lions. PSU plated four runs in the third inning and never looked back, completing the win by a score of 7-2.

The middle of the lineup was dominant in the win, as batters two through five smacked eight of the Blue and White's 12 hits. Kendall, Guers, and Nick Riotto recorded multi-hit games and Christian Helsel also added two from the nine hole.

Sal Biasi was brilliant on the mound for PSU, notching his third win of the season in 7.2 innings while striking out seven. Dakota Forsyth relieved Biasi in the eighth inning and shut the door on the Boilermakers in his second straight appearance.

The sweep increased Penn State's winning streak to six games and improved its home record to 9-1 on the season.

"It's our home," Cooper said. "When you got a student group like Cooperstown, those guys are unbelievable. We talk about wanting to make Medlar a tough place to play, and so far we're upholding our end of it."

Penn State will return home on Tuesday for a non-conference matchup with in-state rival Pittsburgh. The Panthers sit at 13-10 and boast five regular starters with batting averages above .320.



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