Nittany Lions top Kent State, 3-2, behind solid pitching efforts from Hedge, Parvin and Lewis
Three game series at Indiana begins on Friday, March 22 at 4 p.m.
Nittany Lions will play eight games in ten days during spring trip to Texas
Lions open season Friday at East Tennessee State
Nittany Lions open 2013 season at East Tennessee State on Feb. 15
Throughout his successful collegiate coaching career, Robbie Wine has relied on assistant coach Jason Bell to oversee his teams' pitching, both at Oklahoma State and now at Penn State. Wine and Bell, in their 11th season together, have produced a talented core of pitchers that are expected to shine in 2013.
Bell, who enters his ninth season in Happy Valley, has served as the team's pitching coach while also heavily involved in recruiting with fellow assistant coach Eric Folmar. Possessing an impressive list of credentials, the former second-round Major League Draft pick came to Penn State with Wine in the fall of 2004.
In his first eight years with the Nittany Lions, Bell has overseen a dramatic improvement in the pitching staff. During the 2012 season, Bell helped Joe Kurrasch become one of the Big Ten's top starting pitchers, after beginning the season as the team's primary closer. Kurrasch was drafted by the San Francisco Giants in the eighth round of the 2012 MLB draft, after he finished his season at Penn State with a 2.05 ERA, the lowest for a Big Ten starter. In 2009 and 2010, he helped David Lutz transform into a top-flight reliever, leading the team in ERA since 2009. Bell also helped converted outfielder Scott Kelley make a smooth transition to the mound, which eventually led to him becoming a 23rd round selection of the Kansas City Royals in the 2009 Major League Baseball Amateur Draft. In 2010, reliever Heath Johnson was also selected in the draft after the Yankees took him in the 45th round.
The previous June, one of Bell's protégés became the program's top draft pick as Drew O'Neil was selected in the fourth round by the Chicago White Sox. O'Neil, a first team All-Big Ten selection, tied his own Penn State single-season saves record with 11 while boasting a 1.88 ERA and allowing just four earned runs through the regular season.
In 2012, the Nittany Lions recorded more strikeouts in any other season with 407 and pitched a program high of 486 innings. Under Bell's direction, Steven Hill pitched Penn State's first no-hitter since 1995 on April 21, 2012 against Iowa, recording his second shutout of the season. Bell also will see over Dave Walkling in the 2013 season, who recorded seven saves in 2012. Walkling is currently third in PSU history with seven saves in a single season and eighth in overall saves in program history.
In 2007, Penn State led the conference in ERA (4.05), fewest runs, fewest earned runs and fewest hits allowed to spearhead Penn State's 10.5 game improvement from 2006. Penn State led Big Ten pitching by wide margins in conference play. The Nittany Lions' 3.41 overall team ERA was tops by a full 1.39 runs. The 112 runs and 89 earned runs allowed were also the fewest. In fact, Penn State was the only team to give up less than 100 earned runs in conference play (fewer than three earned runs per game). The Nittany Lion hurlers also allowed the second-fewest hits in the league and picked up 20 wins, also second-best. Four of Bell's pitchers were drafted come June: Gary Amato, Craig Clark, Scott Gaffney and Drew O'Neil. Amato, Clark and Gaffney all signed professional contracts while O'Neil, who set the school record for saves in a season and had a scoreless inning streak reach 20.1 innings, elected to return to school despite being an eighth round pick.
Penn State led the Big Ten in fewest walks with just 157 in 435 innings of work in 2006. Clark was tied for third in the Big Ten in fewest walks with just 14 in 91.2 innings, including a streak of 26.2 straight innings without a free pass. Overall, the pitching staff had a 2.22:1 strikeout to walk ratio and was second in the Big Ten in strikeouts through the end of the regular season before eventually finishing in a fifth-place tie with 349.
A co-worker of Wine's at Oklahoma State, Bell served as volunteer assistant coach in charge of pitching for three seasons. During his time with the Cowboys, he aided in the development of seven pitchers who were taken in the Major League Baseball Amateur Draft, including a second and fourth-rounder. The Cowboys also won the 2004 Big 12 Conference Championship. Some notable pitchers he coached at Oklahoma State include current big leaguer Scott Baker (Chicago) and former Toronto Blue Jay Scott Richmond.
Like Wine, Bell has a wide variety of playing and coaching experience, both at the collegiate and professional ranks, that totals 19 years. Prior to his three-year stint as an assistant coach, he pitched in the minor leagues from 1995-2001. He was selected in the second round of the 1995 draft by the Minnesota Twins and played with the Low-A Fort Wayne Wizards, the High-A Fort Myers Miracle, the Double-A New Britain Rock Cats and the Triple-A Salt Lake City Buzz. He also played in the Toronto Blue Jays' system for both their Double-A (Tennessee) and Triple-A (Syracuse) teams. Bell holds the New Britain Rock Cats' franchise record for career strikeouts and is second in wins.
Prior to playing professionally, Bell pitched at Oklahoma State from 1993-95. While there, he participated in the 1993 College World Series and was an All-Big Eight selection in 1994 and 1995, when he led the Cowboys in ERA (3.30 and 3.10), innings pitched (128 and 145) and strikeouts (140 and 120). He was also a two-time All-American in 1994 and 1995, helping the team to three Big Eight Championships. He pitched 325.1 career innings, second-most in school history while his 31 victories are third. Bell's 145 innings pitched and 19 games started in 1995 are both school records. He also holds the school record for consecutive victories with 19, spanning from 1993-95.
A native of Orlando, Fla. Bell graduated from William R. Boone High School in Orlando in 1992. He earned his bachelor's degree from Oklahoma State in Sociology in 2003 after returning to school following his professional career. Bell resides with his wife Tracy and daughter, Reagan Elizabeth.