|Follow PSU Baseball:||Follow @PennStateBASE|
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball returns to action hosting Monmouth, UMBC and No. 23 St. John's in a three-day tournament at the USA Baseball National Training Center in Cary, North Carolina, opening Friday afternoon.
Penn State opens play Friday at 2 p.m. against Monmouth, will play UMBC Saturday starting at noon, and will conclude the series Sunday against St. John's starting at 11 a.m. All of Penn State's games will take place in the complex's stadium, while the other games will be played on Field 2. Monmouth and St. John's will meet Friday at 3 p.m., St John's and UMBC will play Saturday at 12: 30 p.m., and UMBC and Monmouth will play Sunday starting at 10:30 a.m.
Live Video: N/A
Live Audio: N/A
Live Stats: GoPSUsports.com
UMBC Series History: First Meeting
Monmouth: Series History: 1-2
Last Series: 2016, 0-1
St. John's Series History: 9-13
Last Series: 2009, 0-1
PSU RHP Justin Hagenman (1-0, 0.00 ERA)
UMBC RHP Mitchell Wilson (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
PSU LHP Taylor Lehman (1-0, 1.80 ERA)
MON RHP Joe Molettiere (0-1, 3.00 ERA)
PSU LHP Dante Biasi (0-0, 4.15 ERA)
STJ RHP Michael LoPresti (1-0, 1.50 ERA)
Penn State earned a three-game sweep at Elon to start the 2018 season 3-0, marking its best start since starting the 1980 season 3-0.
Penn State's four home runs in the first three games are its most since at least 2004.
Penn State's nine runs allowed in the first three games are its fewest since allowing just seven in 2016.
The last time Penn State held its opponent to two or fewer runs in two of the first three games was in 2009, when Penn State held Northwestern and Seton Hall to a run each.
Penn State's three-straight wins is its most consecutive in the month of February since 2004.
All-Time vs. UMBC
Penn State and UMBC are meeting for the first time.
UMBC is opening its season this weekend. The Retrievers are the defending America East Conference tournmant champions and were picked to finish sixth in the league in 2018 in the coaches' preseason poll.
All-Time vs. Monmouth
Penn State and Monmouth have met three times, with Monmouth holding a 2-1 lead in the all-time series. All three meetings have been at a neutral site and the first matchup dates back to 2005.
Monmouth was swept by Dallas Baptist in its opening series. The Hawks were picked to finish fifth in the MAAC preseason poll.
All-Time vs. St. John's
Penn State trails the all-time series to St. John's with a 9-13-0 record. After playing for the first time in 1906, these two will matchup this season for the first time since 2009.
Scouting St. John's
The Johnnies are ranked No. 23 by Baseball America and enter the weekend coming off a mid-week win at No. 6 North Carolina. They opened the season with a three-game sweep at Campbell. St. John's was an at-large selection to last year's NCAA Baseball tournament.
Penn State will spend spring break (Mar. 3-10) in the Southwest, playing three games at UC Santa Barbara in California and three games at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Lions will remain a young team in 2018 with 14 newcomers, of which none have played in an NCAA Division I baseball game yet. The group features 11 true freshmen who have been with the team since the fall, two dual sport student-athletes and one transfer.
The freshmen were ranked as the 42nd--best recruiting class in 2017 by leading recruiting service Perfect Game. Seven of the freshmen are in-state products.
Bringing veteran experience to the newcomers will be junior transfer Shea Sbranti and senior Penn State wrestler Matt McCutcheon.
Originally an Arizona commit, Sbranti played two seasons at San Joaquin Delta Community College, earning all-conference honors last season.
McCutcheon, a three-time NCAA Wrestling Championships qualifier, played baseball through his sophomore season at high school before devoting his full attention to wrestling.
Additionally, freshman football wide receiver Mac Hippenhammer joined the baseball team at the start of the spring semester. Hippenhammer earned three letters playing shortstop at Snider High School, helping the team to a sectional championship in 2017 by batting .431 with 19 runs scored and 15 stolen bases for the year.
Head coach Rob Cooper, entering his fifth season at Penn State, has two new coaches on his staff, while Andre Butler, entering his third season with the team, was promoted from his volunteer role to a full-time position as the team's hitting coach.
Now working with the pitchers is former Major Leaguer Josh Newman, who spent the previous four seasons as the pitching coach at Marshall. Newman is no stranger to the Big Ten, as he was a three-time All-Big Ten and Academic All-Big Ten selection as a pitcher at Ohio State, and he also spent three seasons on his alma mater's coaching staff following the conclusion of his playing career.
Serving as the volunteer assistant coach is Blaise Lezynski A native of Newtown, Pennsylvania, Lezynski graduated from Notre Dame in 2015 after playing baseball for three seasons and redshirting as a senior due to injury. He finished his collegiate career as a graduate student at Mercer, helping the team win the 2016 Southern Conference Championship.
Return to PNC Park
Penn State and West Virginia will trek to Pittsburgh for a second consecutive year to play in the home of Major League Baseball's Pittsburgh Pirates on Tuesday, April 10.
Penn State played in the park for the first time last season after a rain out at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park was rescheduled for the Pirates' home.
Happy Valley to Lehigh Valley
The Lehigh Valley IronPigs of the Triple-A International League will host Penn State and Lafayette in the first-ever NCAA Division I baseball game in Coca-Cola Park, located in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Wednesday, April 25.
Coca-Cola Park is Minor League Baseball's most visited ballpark since 2008.
Penn State baseball received National Letters of Intent from eight student-athletes, head coach Rob Cooper announced Friday. The class will begin participation in the 2018-19 academic year.
Additional Schedule Highlights
The 2018 54-game schedule features 26 home games in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, 23 road games and five neutral site games.
West Virginia is among the five teams on the Nittany Lions' schedule that played in last season's NCAA Baseball Tournament. Penn State will host at-large selection St. John's (Feb. 25) at its tournament at the USA Baseball National Training Center in Cary, North Carolina, host West Virginia (Apr. 3) in addition to the PNC Park game, visit Big Ten foes Michigan (Apr. 20-22) and Iowa (May 17-19) and host defending Big East Tournament Champions Xavier (May 10-12) in the home finale.
The home opener is slated for Wednesday, Mar. 14 against Mount St. Mary's, which will open a six-game homestand, including NJIT over the weekend (Mar. 16-18) and midweek contests against Bucknell (Mar. 20) and Pitt (Mar. 21).
The Nittany Lions open their Big Ten slate at Rutgers (Mar. 23-25), and will also visit Minnesota (Apr. 6-8), Michigan (Apr. 20-22) and Iowa (May 17-19). Penn State hosts Purdue (Mar. 30-Apr. 1), Ohio State (Apr. 13-Apr. 15), Northwestern (Apr. 27-29) and Michigan State (May 4-5).
Additional midweek non-conference games at Medlar include Binghamton (Mar. 27), Cornell (Mar. 28), St. Bonaventure (Apr. 4) and Bucknell (Apr. 24). Penn State will also play across the state, at Lafayette (Apr. 25), at Pittsburgh (May 8) and at Villanova (May 15).
Eight Sign NLIs for 2019 Season
The initial 2019 class includes one transfer and seven incoming freshmen, a distinct regional footprint with seven of the eight attending high school in either the eastern half of Pennsylvania or in New Jersey, and it breaks down to four pitchers, three infielders and a catcher.
Transferring to Penn State will be left-handed pitcher Joe Baran (West Hazleton, Pa./Hazleton Area), who played at Stony Brook the past two seasons.
Joining Baran as Pennsylvania natives are incoming freshmen catcher Cole Chesnet (Coatesville, Pa./Archbishop Carroll), pitcher Hutch Gagnon (Downingtown, Pa./Downingtown East), infielder Isaiah Payton (Newerk, Del./The Episcopal Academy) and infielder Justin Williams (Mechanicsburg, Pa./ Cumberland Valley).
Hailing from New Jersey are infielder Ryan Ford (Freehold, N.J./Freehold Township) and pitcher Brendan Mullins (Toms River, N.J./Toms River North), while Tyler Shingledecker (Huntersville, N.C.) is the second pitcher in as many years to sign out of Hough High School, which is located just north of Charlotte, North Carolina.
The Nittany Lions will announce additional members of the Class of 2022 later in the academic year.