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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.. - Penn State will spend spring break the only way it knows how, as the Nittany Lions are scheduled to play seven games in eight days in northern California, starting with a three-game series at Pacific Saturday. First pitch has been moved up 1 hour to 4 p.m. ET. The series will continue Sunday at 4 p.m. ET and the finale will start at 9 p.m. ET Monday. All three games will be video streamed on PacificTigers.com.
Live Video: PacificTigers.com
Live Audio: PacificTigers.com
Live Stats: PacificTigers.com
PSU RHP Sal Biasi (1-1, 5.19 ERA)
PAC RHP Shelby Lackey (1-1, 4.91 ERA)
On the Road Again
Penn State is halfway through a season-opening 14-game road stretch. The Nittany Lions are 2-5 after getting swept in their first three games by No. 1 TCU, and then splitting a series in Cary, North Carolina with defending Big East champion Xavier.
The Golden State
The Nittany Lions are playing in California for the first time since 2014 when they went 2-6 against Saint Mary's, Fresno State and Santa Clara.
Homecoming for Coach
Penn State head coach Rob Cooper will be returning to his homeland as he grew up in Sacramento. He graduated from El Camino High School and also played at Sacramento City College in the early 1990's and was an assistant coach their from 1999-2003.
The average Nittany Lion starter this season is not quite a sophomore, as the average class year (Freshman = 1 ... Senior = 4) across all 10 positions through seven games is 1.99. On the mound the Lions are averaging 2.43 years of experience as compared to 1.93 at the plate.
The most experienced position so far this season has been third base averaging 2.86 years of experience by virtue of four starts for senior Christian Helsel. However, the position still holds two starts from true freshman Logan Goodnight.
Pitcher and third base are two of just four positions averaging more than 2.0 years experience starting. The other two are right field, which has six starts from sophomore Jordan Bowersox and one from senior Nick Riotto, and first base, which has featured five starts by sophomore Willie Burger and two by Hesel.
The Nittany Lions have used underclassmen exclusively up the middle. Sophomores Ryan Sloniger and Burger have platooned at catcher, while fellow classmate Conlin Hughes has started every game at second base. Freshmen Joe Weisenseel and Mason Nadeau have started every game at shortstop and centerfield, respectively.
Freshman Braxton Giavedoni has drawn four of seven starts in left field.
In six of seven games, Penn State has started just one upperclassman position player, starting two just once.
The Kids Are Doing Alright at the Plate
Year-over-year, Penn State has not seen a drop-off, even improving in several areas, at the plate, despite losing significant experience from the year prior and playing arguably a tougher schedule.
The average Nittany Lion starting position layer in 2016 was in year 2.54 as opposed to 1.93 this season
The Lions also opened 2016 with a 2-5 record. They went on to post their best record since 2012 at 28-27.
Penn State opened 2016 with one game against Monmouth, two against Army, one against Bryant and three against No. 15 South Carolina. It opened 2017 with three games against No. 1 TCU and four against Xavier.
From 2016 to 17, Penn State has seen a .009 improvement in batting average and .066 improvement in slugging percentage.
The slugging percentage gain is do to a doubling in extra base hits from 10 to 20.
The Lions will look to improve their plate discipline as walks are down but strikeouts up.
The Nittany Lion outfielders own three of the four batting averages on the team.
Sophomore Jordan Bowersox leads with a .407 average through seven games, going 11-for-27 with three doubles and four RBIs.
Freshman Braxton Giavedoni has appeared in six games with four starts and is batting .353 (6-for-17) with two doubles, a home run and two RBIs. He is also tied for the team lead with four walks and leads the team with a .476 batting average..
Freshman Mason Nadeau is fourth on the team with a .316 (6-for-19) batting average. He also has a double and three RBIs.
Sophomores Conlin Hughes and Willie Burger both lead the team with six-game hitting streaks.
Hughes is third on the team with a .333 average and is tied for the team lead in doubles with three. He also hit his first career home run against Xavier (2/25) and has four RBIs.
Burger leads the team with two home runs and nine RBIs and is fifth with a .259 batting average.
A total of 11 Nittany Lions have made their debuts this season.
Freshmen Mason Nadeau and Joe Weisenseel have started all seven games so far this season.
Nadeau's first career hit was a double against Xavier (2/24), and he went 6-for-13 for the series.
Weisenseel singled at No. 1 TCU in his second game.
Freshman Braxton Giavedoni made his debut in the second game of the season at No. 1 TCU (2/18) and doubled for his first career hit when he drew his first start in the series finale.
RHP Myles Gayman pitched the final inning of the TCU series (2/19) and made his first career start against Xavier, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings.
Redshirt freshmen LHP Blake Hodgens RHP Eric Mock both made their first appearances at No. 1 TCU.
Freshman Logan Goodnight made his debut starting at No. 1 TCU (2/18) and tallied his first career hit - a double - against Xavier (2/25).
Freshman RHP Cole Bartels made his debut pitching two innings at No. 1 TCU (19).
Freshman catcher Brett Davis entered in the second and third games at No. 1 TCU
Junior transfer LHP Colin Macon and freshman RHP Tucker Triebold both made their debuts on the mound against Xavier (2/25).
Last Time Out - vs. Xavier (2/24-26)
Consistency and Clutch Hitting Leads to First Win
Penn State earned its first win over the season in the series opener against Xavier, as all 10 Nittany Lion batters that played reached base.
The first five of Penn State's seven runs were all scored with two outs.
Hope You Didn't Miss the Eighth Inning
All of the scoring in the series finale against Xavier took place in the eighth inning, as Penn State scored six runs in the frame to counter Xavier's run in the top half.
Penn State had been held to just two hits through the first seven innings by Xavier's LHP Greg Jacknewtiz, who racked up 13 strikeouts, but scored six runs on four hits and three walks against the Musketeer bullpen.
The Nittany Lions used four pitchers to limit the Musketeers to one run on six hits. Freshman RHP Myles Gayman yielded just two hits and struck out two in 3 2/3 innings before being lifted on a pitch count in his first career start. RHP Nick Distasio pitched 3 1/3 innings and earned the win.
At No. 1 TCU (2/17-19)
Hits were hard to come by in Penn State's season opener at No. 1 TCU, as the Nittany Lions actually outhit the Horned Frogs 3-2.
The two hits allowed were the fewest allowed by the Lions since Mar. 29, 2015 against Central Connecticut State, and the fewest allowed on the road since Apr. 5, 2014 at Purdue.
Burger Homers Twice
Sophomore IF/C Willie Burger homered twice in the series finale at TCU, becoming the first Nittany Lion to hit two long balls in the same game since Greg Guers hit two against Kent State on Apr. 1, 2015.
Burger entered the game with just one collegiate home run hit as a freshman.