By Mandy Bell, GoPSUSports.com student staff writer
UNIVERSITY PARK - "That's my friend! That's my friend," the Penn State student section chanted as Logan Goodnight was hit by a pitch to bring home Ryan Sloniger in the bottom of the seventh inning.
Penn State cut its deficit to 5-2 and the Cooperstown student section really started to get into the game after not seeing much action early on.
For the first four and a third innings, the Nittany Lions could not figure out how to hit Binghamton's starting pitcher Jake Miller. Entering the night, Miller had three appearances on the year with a 1.59 ERA.
"From a pitcher's point of view, I think [Miller] did a good job of mixing speeds," Penn State pitcher Eric Mock said. "He was a little bit effectively wild in a sense. He didn't command the strike zone great, but he did a good enough job of mixing speeds. His two-seam was a little bit slower and just kept hitters off balance."
The Nittany Lions picked up their first hit of the night in the fifth inning off of the bat of Brett Davis. Despite Davis' single to centerfield, Penn State failed to get a run on the board.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Nittany Lions' most dependable hitter this season stepped up to the plate. Jordan Bowersox drove the first pitch he saw down the left field line to get the inning started.
"He's doing a great job and he's a guy you can count on, but I don't think he realizes how good he can really be still," Penn State head coach Rob Cooper said. "I think there's a whole other dimension to his game and we just have to get him out of that little comfort zone that he's in. But, it's definitely nice knowing he's going to give you quality at bats every time he goes up."
Sloniger followed Bowersox's lead by singling down the right field line to put runners on first and second. With a single to left field, Christian Helsel picked up his 15th RBI of the season as Bowersox crossed the plate.
With bases loaded, freshman Logan Goodnight came up to bat. On the fifth pitch of his at bat, Goodnight took a pitch off of his left arm to bring home the second run of the game and cut Penn State's deficit to 5-2. As Goodnight trotted down the first baseline, his faithful student section had his back by yelling at the pitcher for hurting "their friend."
Austin Riggins then worked a five-pitch walk to pick up his first RBI of the 2017 season as Helsel stepped on the plate. With the score at 5-3 after going hitless for more than four innings, the Nittany Lions needed to hold the Binghamton offense.
After Penn State starting pitcher Schuyler Bates' six-inning outing, Cooper called on Mock to take the mound. Mock had pitched two-thirds of an inning in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader against Ohio State giving up four runs. After briefly working in Penn State's starting rotation, Mock went back to the reliving role on Sunday and in the seventh inning on Monday.
"It is tough coming in as a reliever, but the key is trying to find a routine, which yesterday I wasn't really able to do," Mock said. "Today, I had a little bit more time to warm up and kind of get my routine right. I also thought about my game plan more and kind of slow the game down before I went in."
Bouncing back from his Sunday outing, the redshirt freshman pitched two innings of scoreless baseball. In the top of the ninth, Paul Rufo fisted an inside pitch into shallow right field for an RBI single to take the lead 6-3.
"I was glad that Coop[er] let me go out there today because luckily I have been blessed with a sound mind," Mock said. "I may be listed as a freshman, but I have been here for two years now and I think that I'm wise enough to understand that I am going to go through some growing pains and there will be some bumps in the road. So, I learned a lot from my last two outings that weren't the best, but I think, in the end, it's going to make me a better pitcher and I am glad I was able to get out there tonight and bounce back a little bit."
Despite a late seventh-inning charge by Penn State, the Nittany Lions ultimately fell to the Bearcats 6-3.
"We are not doing enough offensively to put us in a position to finish that off," Cooper said. "I am proud of the guys for fighting and competing, but the thing is that is what we should be doing. We represent an unbelievable university and we get to play the game of baseball. Like I told the guys in the locker room, when we all decided we wanted to be at Penn State, me included, it was because we want to do great things and be successful. Well, if it's not going great you can't all of the sudden change your mind. You have to keep fighting and keep pushing and that's what we are going to do."Penn State will host its fifth game in four days on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. against Bucknell at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.