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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Winners of 14 of its last 18 games, Penn State returns to the road for a three-game Big Ten baseball series at Northwestern starting Friday at 4 p.m. eastern in Rocky Miller Park.
Live Video: BTN Plus
Live Audio: GoPSUsports.com
Live Stats: NUsports.com
Radio: ESPN Radio 1450 AM (Tyler Zulli)
Series History: 126-29-1 (1882)
Last Series: 2-0 (4/7, 15/2015)
PSU LHP Taylor Lehman (1-6, 4.95 ERA)
NU LHP Reed Mason (2-3, 4.05 ERA)
PSU RHP Sal Biasi (3-4, 4.08 ERA)
NU RHP Dan Kubiuk (0-3, 5.46 ERA)
PSU RHP Justin Hagenman (4-1, 2.25 ERA)
Riotto Named Big Ten Player of the Week
Nick Riotto was named the Big Ten Baseball Player of the Week for the week of Apr. 4-10. For the week, Riotto went 12-for-22 (.545) with a .583 on-base percentage, home run, two doubles, eight runs scored and six RBIs. He had four-multi-hit games, including three three-hit games and is currently on a nine-game hitting streak on which he is batting .487 with a .523 OBP and 11 RBI. Perhaps his most important performance came in Penn State's lone victory over Michigan State Sunday, as he accounted for five of the seven runs Penn State scored by crossing home plate three times and driving in two more. He reached base four times going 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a hit by pitch, with the latter coming in the decisive bottom of the ninth, and he later scored the game-tying run. To start the week, Riotto led the Nittany Lions at the plate in its biggest win of the season based on RPI, going 3-for-4 with a double and two runs against Pitt (No. 24 in RPI at the time). He then led the Nittany Lions at Lafayette the very next day going 3-for-5 with a home run, double, four RBIs, three runs and a walk. Riotto is the second Nittany Lion to earn the award this season, as freshman Willie Burger was recognized earlier in the season March 21.
Diamond Lions Improving
At 19-14, Penn State owns its best record through 33 games since 2011 when it was 21-12, and already has its most wins since winning 29 in 2012. The 19 wins are the most under head coach Rob Cooper, who is now in his third year at the helm. The most noticeable gain has been in pitching, as the Lions' 3.31 team ERA is approximately 1.75 runs lower than last season's and ranks 32nd nationally and third in the Big Ten. Penn State is also 6-2 in one run games after going just 1-7 in games decided by one run last year, and already has more wins away from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park than it did all of last season.
Dealing on the Mound
Penn State enters the weekend with a 3.31 team ERA, which ranks 32nd in the country and third in the Big Ten.
Jack Anderson fell 2/3 of an inning short of the one inning pitched per game played minimum after not appearing against Bucknell (4/13), but he entered the week leading the team with a 0.84 ERA out of the bullpen. He previously ranked first in the conference and fifth in the nation.
Justin Hagenman (2.25) leads the rotation and ranks ninth in the Big Ten in ERA.
The finales of Penn State's first three Big Ten series have featured ninth-inning or later dramatics.
Most recently, an error on a chopper hit by Jordan Bowersox in the bottom of the ninth, gave the Lions a walk-off win against Michigan State (4/10). The Lions trailed by one entering the inning.
The week prior, an RBI- double by catcher Alex Malinsky gave the Lions a walk-off win over Purdue (4/2, G2) in the bottom of the 12th inning. The Lions trailed by two entering the inning.
Willie Burger hit a bases-clearing double in the top of the ninth inning at Illinois (3/26, G2) to break open a 1-1 game.
Return to the Road
Penn State has concluded a stretch of 15 out of 19 games at home, on which it went 14-5. so far during the densest part of its home schedule.
Seven of the next eight games will be on the road.
Penn State senior Nick Hedge and Northwestern freshman Danny Katz played together at New Trier H.S. (Winnetka, Ill.)
Penn State sophomore Marko Boricich played with Northwestern sophomore Richard Fordon at Mount Carmel H.S. (Chicago, Ill.)
Homecoming for Anderson
Closer Jack Anderson is an Evanston native.
He was a two-year letterwinner for the Evanston Wildkits and named two-time CSL All-Conference. He posted a 1.60 ERA with eight saves and 8.2 strikeouts per seven innings during his varsity years.
Penn State is not afraid to rely on its freshmen.
Penn State has used starting lineups featuring at least three freshmen in all but four games and has had no less than two freshmen starting each game.
The Lions have had five start on seven occasions with a season-high of six at Lafayette (4/8).
Freshman RHP Justin Hagenman leads the team with a 4-1 record and has a rotation-leading 2.25 ERA, while freshman middle infielder Conlin Hughes has started and played in all but one game. Corner infielder Willie Burger is second on the team with 20 RBIs.
Penn State's three-man weekend rotation has consisted entirely of underclassmen.
Penn State is 6-2 in one run games after going just 1-7 in games decided by one run last year.
Anderson Among Big Ten and Nation's Best
Closer Jack Anderson entered the week ranking fifth in the country and tops in the conference with a 0.84 ERA.
He is tied for ninth nationally with a Big Ten-leading eight saves.
Anderson has broken the Penn State career appearances record and now has 87, and he is threatening the school's single-season and career saves records.
Homecoming for Anderson
Every appearance by Jack Anderson from here on out will be a new Penn State career record, as his 86th career trip to the mound at Lafayette (4/6) set a new standard.
With a career-high eight saves this season, Jack Anderson now has 20 for his career to rank second all-time at Penn State. Drew O'Neil (2007-08) is the Penn State record holder with 22 after posting a single-season record 11 in back-to-back seasons.
Anderson needs three more saves to equal the single-season record.
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.
Anderson entered the week ranking fifth in the nation and first in the Big Ten with a 0.84 ERA.
Until Sunday's game against Michigan State, he had not allowed an earned run in his last 10 appearances.
His eight saves lead the Big Ten and rank tied for ninth in the nation.
Anderson ranks third in the Big Ten and ranks 32nd in the country with 18 appearances.
Anderson picked up his third win of the season in his last outing, pitching the final three innings against Michigan State (4/12, G2).
He pitched a season-high 4 2/3 innings to earn the win in extra innings against Purdue (4/2, G2).
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 worked out of some tough spots this season, often entering before the ninth inning.
Anderson was called upon with a one-run lead against Michigan State (4/12, G2) in the seventh inning. He allowed two runs (one unearned) but earned the win.
Anderson entered in tie games against Purdue (4/1-2, G2) earning the win in both.
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.
Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Nick Riotto owns Penn State's longest active hitting streak at 10 games.
He is batting .488 during the stretch, going 21-for-43 with a team-high 11 RBIs, a team-high 12 runs, a home run, two doubles and three walks and two hit-by-pitches for a .531 on-base percentage.
His home run at Lafayette (4/6) was his first this season and the second of his career.
Riotto has struck out just once during the streak.
Getting in Guer
Over the last 14 games, Greg Guers is batting .382 (21-for-55) with a team-high nine extra base hits including seven doubles, a triple, a home run and 11 RBIs.
Guers has hits in seven out of his last eight games with five multi-hit games.
He went a career-best 4-for-4 with four RBIs against Bucknell (4/13).
Guers went a combined 5-for-9 with two doubles, three runs scored and an RBI in a doubleheader against Purdue (4/2). Guers' lead-off double in the bottom of the 12th of game two ignited a three-run inning for a walk-off win.
Guers enjoyed a career season in 2015 with eight home runs (7th in Big Ten), 38 RBIs, 13 doubles, 14 stolen bases on 15 attempts, 101 total bases and a .495 slugging percentage to lead the team in all categories.
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.
Haley had an 11-game hitting streak halted in the final game of the Purdue series (4/2).
He leads the team entering the weekend with a .354 batting average, 21 RBIs, 13 extra base hits and is tied for the team lead with Greg Guers with two home runs.
Against Michigan State (4/8), Haley posted his third three-hit game of the season. It was his second three-hit game in a week as he went 3-for-5 with a season-high three RBIs at Lafayette (4/6).
Haley has had a hit in all but three games this season: at Duke (3/9), Niagara (3/18) , Purdue (4/2, G2) and Michigan State (4/8).
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.
More Than Batting Average
The Lions rank second in the Big Ten and 65th in the country with 144 walks.
At first glance it might be surprising that James Coates, is drawing regular starts in left field with a .148 batting average, but the senior's patience at the plate has resulted in a team-best 26 walks as well as a .377 on-base percentage, which ranks third on the team.
The 26 walks rank fourth in the conference and 58th in the country.
He ranks tied for sixth all-time at Penn State with 92 career walks, 34 shy of the record.
Coates and Greg Guers are tied for sixth in the conference with five sacrifice bunts this season.
With 12 triples on the season, Penn State leads the Big Ten and ranks 36th in the country.
An RBI-triple by Tyler Kendall in the eighth inning against Purdue (4/1) resulted in the go-ahead run in the game
Jim Haley leads the team with three to rank second in the league and 66th in the country.