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|Friday, Mar. 25 - 7:00 p.m. ET|
|Saturday, Mar. 26 - 12:00 p.m. ET|
|Saturday, Mar. 26 - 4:00 p.m. ET|
|Illinois Field | Champaign, Ill.|
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|Game Notes: Penn State | Illinois|
|Statistics: Penn State | Illinois|
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State will open its Big Ten baseball slate by visiting the league's defending regular season champions, Illinois, starting a three-game series Friday at 7 p.m. ET in Illinois Field. The teams will now play a doubleheader Saturday starting at noon ET. The finale at 4 p.m. ET will be live on BTN.
Live Video: FightingIllini.com
Live Audio: GoPSUsports.com
Live Stats: FightingIllini.com
TV: BTN (Saturday), Andy Masur, Danan Hughes
Radio: ESPN Radio 1450 AM (Brian Tripp)
Series History: 33-29 (1992)
Last Series: L, 1-10; L 2-4 (15); L, 3-6 (4/24-26/15)
PSU LHP Taylor Lehman (1-4, 4.50 ERA)
ILL RHP Cody Sedlock (3-1, 3.98 ERA)
PSU RHP Sal Biasi (2-2, 4.86 ERA)
ILL LHP Doug Hayes (2-2, 3.86 ERA)
PSU RHP Justin Hagenman (3-1, 1.12 ERA)
ILL RHP Cole Bellair (0-0, 0.46 ERA)
Diamond Lions Improving
At 9-10, Penn State is off to its best start through 19 games since 2011 when it opened the season at 12-7. The most noticeable gain has been in pitching, as the Lions' 3.46 team ERA is over two runs lower than last season's through 19 games. After a slow start to the season offensively, Penn State is batting .320 and averaging 6.9 runs per game as a team in its last eight games.
Burger Named B1G Player and Freshman of the Week
After enjoying the finest weekend of his young collegiate career, freshman infielder Willie Burger claimed both the Big Ten Baseball Player and Freshman of the Week honors for the week of Mar. 14-20. Burger drove in six runs, batted .636 (7-for-11) and scored four times. His best game was in the series finale when he went 4-for-4 with four runs, three RBI and two walks. The awards are the first of Burger's career and he is the first Nittany Lion to receive the conference player of the week honor since 2012 (Jordan Steranka). It marks the second consecutive season Penn State has had a freshman of the week, as Sal Biasi (Hazleton, Pa.) received the honor following the same week last year (March 23, 2015.)
Blue and White Submarine
With six saves this season, Jack Anderson has already set a new single-season career high after posting five saves in each of the past two seasons. He has 18 for his career to rank second all-time at Penn State, four shy of the school record. He is also four shy of the school's all-time appearances record with 81.
With 299 Big Ten wins, Penn State is nearing its 300th in 24 seasons in the conference.
Penn State has used starting lineups featuring at least three freshmen in all but one game, and has had as many as five. Freshman RHP Justin Hagenman leads the team with a 3-1 record and 1.12 ERA, while freshman middle infielder Conlin Hughes is just one of three student-athletes to start and play in every game so far this season. He's batting .282 to rank fourth on the team. Freshman corner infielder Willie Burger leads the team with 16 RBIs after driving in eight in the past five games, and he ranks third on the team with a .291 batting average. Penn State's three-man weekend rotation has consisted entirely of underclassmen and featured two freshmen (Eli Nabholz and Hagenman) against Niagara.
Last Time Out
Penn State extended its winning streak to four after winning midweek contests over West Virginia and Rhode Island.
A pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Greg Guers in the seventh inning broke a 4-4 tie and proved to be the difference, as Penn State defeated West Virginia, 5-4, Tuesday night.
It was Penn State's third straight win over West Virginia.
Jim Haley, Jordan Bowersox, and Nick Graham led Penn State offensively with two-hit games.
Haley scored the winning run in the seventh after leading the frame off with a triple.
Dakota Forsyth and Jack Anderson held WVU scoreless over the final 4 1/3 innings.
A four-run second inning and strong pitching from Nick Distastio and Jack Anderson led Penn State past Rhode Island, 5-3, Wednesday night.
Distasio earned the win for Penn State with 4 2/3 innings of relief, allowing just an unearned run in the seventh.
Willie Burger went 1-for-3 with two RBIs that proved to be the game deciding runs. Nick Riotto tripled and went 2-for-5 with an RBI and run, while Jim Haley, Tyler Kendall and Jordan Bowersox and Austin Riggins all had two hit games to contribute to the Lions total of 12 hits.
Nittany Lions from Illinois
Jack Anderson - Evanston/Evanston Township
Marko Boricich - Chicago/Mount Carmel
Nick Hedge - Winnetka/New Trier
Dealing on the Mound
Penn State enters the weekend with a 3.46 team ERA, which ranks 53rd in the country and fourth in the Big Ten.
Jack Anderson (0.89) and Justin Hagenman (1.13) rank second and third in the Big Ten, respectively, in ERA, trailing Illinois' Cole Bellair. Nationally, Anderson and Hagenman rank 22nd and 35th.
Anderson leads the Big Ten with 12 appearances and six saves. His saves total ranks sixth nationally.
Taylor Lehman ranks 10th in the Big Ten with 27 strikeouts.
Blue and White Submarine Continued
Jack Anderson was one of 70 relievers named to the initial watch list for the 12th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.
He is notable for his "submarine" style delivery.
With six saves this season, he has 16 for his career to rank second at Penn State. Drew O'Neil (2007-08) is the Penn State record holder with 22.
He now has 81 career appearances which ranks second. He is on track for the record of 85 set by David Lutz (2007-10).
Anderson posted a team-best 2.98 ERA in 2015 to rank ninth amongst all pitchers in the Big Ten. He also led the Nittany Lions with 29 appearances, tallying four wins and five saves, and he finished a third of the Lions' games. His most impressive stretch in 2015 came late in the season against Pitt, Rutgers and Michigan State when he made appearances in six consecutive games, throwing 14 innings with a 1.93 ERA, 1-1 record and three saves.
Jack Anderson has appeared in 12 out of 19 games entering the weekend, leading the conference and ranking 23rd nationally.
Only two appearances have been for an inning or less.
All but one of his saves (Rhode Island, 3/23) have been for more than one inning of work.
Anderson has earned saves in all of his last three appearances over the last four Penn State games .
Appearing in four out of five games over the past week, Anderson has not allowed a run in 6 2/3 innings, striking out six and picking up three saves.
He has appeared in 10 of the last 13 games.
Only Jack Anderson's most recent save has required only one inning of work.
He pitched two full innings against Niagara (3/19, G1) for his fourth save of the season.
At Duke, Anderson entered with a runner on second base with two outs in the eighth inning. Anderson hit and walked a batter to load the bases before getting the inning-ending out without allowing a run.
For his second save opportunity, Anderson worked the final 2 1/3 innings with just a one-run cushion. He entered the game with two outs in the seventh and a runner on first who moved into scoring position on a passed ball.
He earned his first save of the season in dramatic fashion against Army for Penn State's first victory of the year. Nursing a one-run lead, Anderson entered in the eighth inning with runners on the corners and no outs, and did not allow a run over the final two innings.
Penn State is 4-2 in one run games after going just 1-7 in games decided by one run last year.
Jim Haley picked up where he left off to start the 2016 season.
After batting .436 with seven doubles and a triple over final nine games of the 2015 season, Haley opened the 2016 campaign with a 10-game hitting streak.
He leads the team with a .351 batting average, eight extra base hits and two home runs.
Made a great catch and throw on a grounder up the middle for the final out in 5-4 win over UNCW. If the runner was safe it would have been runners on the corners with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Haley also made another great play on a ball hit up the middle in the bottom of the ninth against Duke in another one-run game.
For the first time in his career, he has drawn starts at third base this season.
Haley hit his first career home run during the South Carolina series.
Nick Riotto is currently on an eight-game hitting streak.
He leads the team with a .444 on-base percentage. He posted a .706 on-base percentage in the season's first four games. Riotto went just 4-for-9 at the plate after averaging two free passes per game, drawing six walks and getting plunked twice.
In back-to-back midweek games against West Virginia and Rhode Island (3/23-24), every single player who stepped to the plate got on base at least once over the course of both games, and nine different players recorded a hit. Five different pitchers held PSU's opponents to just six earned runs in the victories.
Walk This Way
The Lions lead the Big Ten with 94 walks.
Nick Riotto and James Coates rank third (16) and sixth (14) in the Big Ten.
Coates walked a career-high four times against NYIT (3/11).
Penn State ranks second in the Big Ten with 27 stolen bases.
Jim Haley leads the team with six swipes on seven attempts. Greg Guers is 4-for-4.
Swing and Connect
For the first time since April 26, 2008 at Illinois, Penn State batters did not strikeout a single time in against Niagara (G1).
The Penn State Coaches Show
The Penn State Coaches Show featuring Rob Cooper, presented by Pepsi, airs weekly beginning Monday (6 p.m.) at LETTERMANS on East College Avenue. Hosted by Brian Tripp, the show can be heard live locally on State College's ESPN Radio 1450 AM, a Forever Media station, and for free nationally on GoPSUsports.com.
Cooper will be featured during an hour-long show that originates from LETTERMANS. Joining Cooper will be an array of fellow Penn State head coaches, baseball student-athletes and support staff throughout the remainder of the season.
Fans are encouraged to attend the live airing of the show with the opportunity to ask questions. Fans unable to attend can submit questions to www.GoPSUsports.com/askthecoach. The show will also be fielding questions from Twitter users with the hashtag #AskCoop.