PSU Claims Opening Big Ten Series in 10-6 Win Over Wildcats
March 29, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; March 29, 2014 - The Penn State Nittany Lions (12-13, 2-0 Big Ten) kept its perfect home record intact on Saturday, beating Northwestern (4-19, 1-4) and the ensuing rain in a 10-6 victory. With the win, the Nittany Lions are now 2-0 in Big Ten play, their best start in conference action since the 2007 season. The Blue and White has now seven of its last eight games and have secured their third-straight series, fourth of the season.
Penn State was extremely efficient in the second game of the three-game series, scoring 10 runs on nine hits. The Nittany Lions also made the visitors pay for the seven free passes issued to the PSU hitters, along with two Wildcat errors. The 10 runs are tied for the most in a game on the season, as Penn State also put up 10 runs in a win over Hofstra on March 7.
The Blue and White received a big day from freshman pitcher Dakota Forsyth (Bethel Park, Pa.), who came on in relief in the third inning and put in 5.2 innings of work, carrying the team through the eighth. Forsyth allowed four hits and two earned runs to hold the Wildcat offense in check and give the Lions’ bats opportunities to secure and increase a lead. The freshman picked up his first collegiate win in the effort and is now 1-1 on the season.
A plethora of Penn State hitters made contributions at the dish, as all nine batters reached base either by a base hit or a walk. Senior Zach Ell (Plains, Pa.) was the only member of the Blue and White to record a multi-hit game, going 2-for-3 with two runs scored and reached on a walk. Three other Nittany Lions came across the plate for two runs, who were Taylor Skerpon (Sayre, Pa.), James Coates (Girard, Ohio) and Alex Farkes (Boston, Mass.).
For the second consecutive day Northwestern was the first team on the scoreboard, posting three runs in the top of the first for an early three run lead. All three of the runs were unearned, as a costly error with two outs led to the visitor’s big inning.
Penn State immediately responded in the bottom of the first with two runs of its own to cut the visitor’s lead to one at 3-2. The Nittany Lion hitters picked up where they left off last night in the batter’s box, drawing back-to-back walks to start the inning. The two runners then moved up 90 feet off a balk. Snyder then came around to score the Lions first run off a groundout from White. Guers followed with a grounder to second, scoring Skerpon for the second run of the frame.
The Blue and White held the Wildcats off the board in the top of the second and then took its first lead of the game in the bottom of the frame, plating three runs to grab a 5-3 lead. Ell (Plains, Pa.) tied the game up at 3-3, scampering home on a wild pitch. White then notched his second RBI of the morning, singling to center to plate Farkes and give the Lions their first lead of the day. Guers capped off the inning with a sacrifice fly to left, allowing Skerpon to come across the plate for the third run in the second.
Neither team scored in the fourth, for the first scoreless frame of the game. In the top of the fifth, Northwestern reclaimed the lead at 6-5. The Wildcats scored their two runs of three singles and a double.
Just as in the first inning, Penn State bounced back in the bottom of the stanza with another three-run inning to go back on top at 8-6. All three runs came via two-out singles, as Farkes connected on a two-out single into left field to score two runs. Snyder followed with a flair shallow right to give the Nittany Lions a lead of two runs.
The Blue and White tacked on two insurance runs in the sixth, again coming up with clutch two-out hitting. With Guers on second and two down, Coates shot one back through the middle to score Guers and advanced to second on the throw home. Jim Haley (Upper Darby, Pa.) then singled to center in the next at-bat to give Penn State a four-run lead at 10-6.
Forsyth and Jack Anderson (Evanston, Ill.) combined to shutout the Wildcats over the final three innings, preserving the four run lead and securing the 10-6 victory.
The Nittany Lions and Wildcats will return to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park tomorrow for the third and final game of the series, as Penn State looks to complete its first three-game sweep of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.