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May 14, 2014
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; May 14, 2014 -The Blue and White return to Happy Valley to host Michigan State in the regular season finale for a three-game series. The opening game is scheduled for Thursday evening at 6:30 p.m. with game two following on Friday at 6:30 p.m. The final game of the regular season against the Spartans is slated to begin on Saturday at noon with Senior Day festivities to follow.
Promotions: On Thursday evening there will be a Texas Roadhouse free appetizer giveaway. Friday’s game at 6:30 p.m. will be the final Dollar Dog Night of the season. All hot dogs at the concession stands will be sold for one dollar. Then on Saturday, the final home game of the season, PSU will honor its seniors during and after the game with Senior Day. Saturday is also the third Little League Day of the season. All Little Leaguers who wear their jersey to the game will receive a ticket for one dollar.
On Deck: After this weekend, Penn State’s season will either come to an end or the Nittany Lions could clinch a spot in the Big Ten tournament depending on the results of all the games this weekend.
What’s at Stake: Penn State has a chance to finish the season in the top eight in the Big Ten standings and qualify for the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha, Nebraska next week. Currently the Nittany Lions are three wins out of eighth place, trailing Michigan State and Iowa. Penn State needs a sweep over the Spartans in the three-game series to secure a tournament bid and punch their ticket to Omaha. If the Lions sweep they would qualify due to having fewer conference losses because of the rainout against Northwestern.
Follow the Game Live: This weekend’s games will have a number of options in ways fans can follow the action. The games can be listened to live on State College ESPN 1450 or can be heard on GoPSUsports.com. Fans can also follow along with the live stats found on GoPSUsports.com, which allows users to get up to the minute stats and plays from the game.
All-Time Series vs. Michigan State: Penn State trails the Spartans in all-time series, winning 33 games and losing 41. Last season the Nittany Lions took one out of three games against MSU. The last time Penn State swept Michigan State was during the 2010 season, as Penn State won each of the three games by eight runs or more. The Blue and White is 17-21 against the Spartans in games played in Happy Valley. Five of the last nine matchups between the two sides have been decided by one run or less.
Spartans at a Glance: Michigan State comes into the final weekend of play on a bit of a losing skid, having lost its last four contests and seven of its last nine games. However, MSU has been very competitive during this stretch, as all seven losses have been by three runs or less. The Spartans’ recent losses have come at the hands of Illinois, Nebraska and Central Michigan, all quality opponents.
MSU at the Dish: As a team, the Spartans have a batting average of .269 this season, placing the team in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten. The Green and White averages 4.5 runs per game. That number is aided by the squads agressiveness on the bases, as Michigan State is third in the conference in steals with 72 in 2014. MSU’s offense features a dynamic duo of Blaise Salter and Jimmy Pickens. Both players are hitting over .320 with at least 30 RBIs and 29 runs scored.
MSU on the Mound: Michigan State’s biggest asset is its pitching staff. The team has posted a 3.15 ERA through 50 games, ranking second in the Big Ten. Opposing hitters are batting just .248 against the Spartans. MSU’s Justin Alleman and Mick VanVossen have served as inning eaters for the Green and White. Alleman leads the team in innings pitched with 88 and VanVossen is right behind with 85. Both pitchers have ERAs under 3.10 and have held opposing hitters to averages under .230. Alleman and VanVossen have a combined record of 11-5 on the season.
Last Series vs. Michigan State: The Nittany Lions and Spartans played in the regular season finale last season in Happy Valley and the Spartans escaped with a series victory, winning two of the three games. The first two matchups were blowouts, with MSU winning the first 16-1 and Penn State answered with a 9-0 victory in the second game. Michigan State pulled out the rubber match with a narrow 2-1 win to take the series.
Last Time Out: Penn State got back in the win column with a hard-fought 5-4 victory over Villanova on Tuesday afternoon. The Nittany Lions received a solid start from junior Geoff Boylston who matched his career high in innings pitched with 5.2 and allowed just one run on five hits while striking out four for his second win of the year. The offense produced 11 hits with Alex Malinsky and Greg Guers each driving in two runs.
Boylston’s Best: Starting pitcher Geoff Boylston had his best performance as a Nittany Lion on Tuesday evening, tossing 5.2 innings of work, while allowing one run on five hits en route to his second victory of the season. The junior now has a season ERA of 3.42, second best on the team, and a record of 2-1 in four starts.
Getting it Dunn: Senior pitcher Tim Dunn has gone from starting the season coming out of the bullpen to now serving as the Friday starter for the Nittany Lions. The senior has an overall ERA of just 2.68 and has held opposing hitters to a batting average against of .250 in 50.1 innings of work. In his last outing in April, Dunn tossed his first career complete game, going eight innings at Minnesota while allowing just five hits and two earned runs.
B1G Double Plays: Despite being tied for playing the fewest amount of Big Ten games thus far this season, the Nittany Lions rank first in amount of double plays turned in 2014 conference play with 26. Over the last three weekends Penn State has combined to complete 13 double plays with six coming at Minnesota and four at Nebraska. The next closest team to PSU in Big Ten double plays is Northwestern, which has turned 22 in Big Ten action.