Penn State Drops Finale at Nebraska, 8-4
May 4, 2014
LINCOLN, Neb.; May 4, 2014 - The Penn State Nittany Lions (17-26, 5-12 Big Ten) were unable to win the series finale in Lincoln, losing to Nebraska (32-17, 13-5 Big Ten) by a final score of 8-4. The three-game series was the first for Penn State at Nebraska in program history.
The Nittany Lions recorded seven hits in the game and drew four walks and a hit by pitch to score their four runs. Aaron Novak (Ambler, Pa.) led Penn State with two base knocks, including a double and single. Another Lion with a notable day at the dish was J.J. White (Landsowne, Va.), who reached base three times off a single, a walk and a hit by pitch, allowing the junior to score a team-high two runs.
For the second time in as many days, Nebraska managed to push across the opening run in the first inning to gain an early advantage. With the bases empty and two outs, the Huskers’ Michael Pritchard doubled to right center followed by a single from Pat Kelly to give the hosts an early 1-0 lead.
Two innings later Penn State fought back and leveled the score at one run apiece. Alex Malinsky (Apex, N.C.) led off the top of the third with a single up the middle. Two batters later Jim Haley (Upper Darby, Pa.) laced a ball deep down the right field line for an RBI double to score Malinsky and even the score.
The Nittany Lions kept its offensive momentum going in the top of the fourth, scoring two runs to take their first lead of the game at 3-1. The Blue and White had two runners in scoring position with one out after a walk from White, a single off the bat of Nick Riotto (Washington, Pa.) and a sacrifice bunt. Penn State’s Tyler Kendall (Boynton Beach, Fla.) broke the 1-1 deadlock with an RBI groundout to second to score White. Later in the inning Riotto scrambled home to score on a wild pitch to open up a two-run lead for the Lions.
The lead was short lived for Penn State, as Nebraska immediately responded with a big five-run bottom of the fourth to retake the lead at 6-3. The Huskers loaded the bases with no outs and scored their first two runs on RBI groundouts to even knot the game up at 3-3. With two runners on and two outs, Kelly singled to shallow right center to score take back the lead. Two batters later Blake Headley singled to drive in Kelly and cap off the five-run frame.
After a scoreless fifth inning from both teams, Penn State’s offense threatened with the potential for a big inning in the sixth. The Nittany Lions loaded the bases with one out and then drew within two runs after Malinsky drew a bases loaded walk to score White. Unfortunately for the Blue and White, the next batter sharply hit a ball to the Nebraska first baseman, who stepped on first and fired home to complete the inning-ending double play and hold Penn State to one run in the frame, making the score 6-4.
The hosts were able to answer Penn State in the sixth and get their run back, despite not recording a hit in the frame. Kelly led off with a walk and moved to second off a groundout and then to third on a wild pitch. Blake Headley then drove Kelly in with a sacrifice fly to right field to extend Nebraska’s lead back to three runs at 7-4.
The Cornhuskers tacked on another run in the bottom of the seventh off a two-out double to the left field wall off the bat of Jake Placzek to score Ben Miller and increase their lead to 8-4.
The Nebraska pitching staff shut down the Penn State offense in the final three innings to secure the 8-4 victory and complete the series sweep.
Penn State has the next week off for finals before returning to the Diamond on Friday, May 9 for a three-game showdown with the Big Ten’s top team in the Indiana Hoosiers. Game one is slated to start at 6:30 p.m. at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.