Late Surge Not Enough Against Kent State
Following an offensive surge in Sunday night’s win over Central Connecticuit to cap off a two win day and a series sweep, the Nittany Lions (8-14) shifted their attention to the Kent State Golden Flashes (13-11) Wednesday evening to finish off an impressive home stand.
Winners in seven of their last eight games, Penn State came into the game with momentum. Kent State came into Wednesday night winning five of their last seven.
Nittany Lions left-hander Jordan Donmoyer struggled in his first start of the season. Donmoyer could not find his spots and eventually became a casualty of the Kent State batting order. He lasted just 1 2/3 innings giving up 4 runs, three of which earned, on as many hits. Sophomore Dakota Forsyth replaced the junior in the second.
The Golden Flashes struck early as leadoff man Luke Burch hit a triple to deep center field to start the game. After a walk to Zach Beckner to put runners on the corners, Penn State third baseman Ryky Smith bobbled a Sawyer Polen ground ball and then overthrew it to first base, scoring Burch for the first run of the game.
Zarley Zalewski followed with a single to the right side that scored Beckner. Tommy Monnot grounded into a double play, driving in Polen in the process as Kent State took a 3-0 lead in the top of the first. Donmoyer was able to strike out Connor Simonetti to end the inning.
After Kent State pitcher Jared Skolnicki retired the side in order, the Golden Flashes continued their surge in the top of the second inning as Jeff Revesz started things off with a single. With two outs in the inning, Burch drove in Revesz for the fourth run of the game for Kent State and his second hit of the afternoon.
The left-hander Skolnicki looked dominant early, giving up one run on one hit through the first 4 innings. His ability to hit the outside corner kept the Penn State offense guessing.
Penn State showed signs of life in the bottom of the third as James Coates walked to start off the inning. Smith singled through the right side advancing Coates to second. Following a sacrifice bunt by Alex Malinsky, Taylor Skerpon produced a sacrifice fly to right that scored Coates for the Nittany Lions first run of the game.
Penn State continued their offensive success in the bottom of the fifth inning. Smith started off the inning with a beautiful bunt to the left side of the mound. Smith was able to steal second after being caught in a rundown. Malinsky then singled to center field to put runners at first and third for first baseman Greg Guers. Guers took a 1-2 pitch deep into the bleachers in right field for a three-run home run to tie the game 4-4 after 5 innings.
To start the sixth inning, Penn State skipper Rob Cooper decided to pull Forsyth and go with Jared Fagnano on the mound, who proceeded to walk Zalewski to start the inning. Monnot doubled to put runners on at second and third. Simonetti redeemed himself in his third at-bat with a two run double to restore the lead for Kent State at 6-4.
Skonicki retired the first two batters in the bottom half of the inning, and then was pulled after walking Coates for the likes of sophomore Zach Spangler. Skolnicki went 5 2/3 innings, giving up 4 runs, three earned, on three hits and four walks.
Immediately after Coates stole second base, Smith delivered an RBI to left field to cut the lead to 6-5.
Tempers flared at the end of the inning as Cooper was ejected from the game for arguing with the home plate umpire over a potential missed strike call.
“I’m glad we battled back into it, but we didn’t deserve to win this game,” said Cooper. “We came out and did the complete opposite of what we’ve been doing the past three weeks, and that’s the frustrating part. We made the choice not to control our competitive spirit.”
Mullin kept the score in check in the top of the seventh inning for Penn State.
The Nittany Lions threatened in the bottom half after Skerpon singled to lead off the inning and Aaron Novak was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with one out, but Jim Haley grounded into a 1-6-3 double play to end the threat.
Junior Jack Anderson relieved Mullen to start the eighth inning. Olvey led off the inning with a double and scored on a throwing error to extend Kent States lead to 7-5. They would tack on another to make it 8-5.
The Golden Flashes put the finishing touches on the scoreboard in the top of the ninth inning after a wild pitch from Jake Pilewicz with the bases loaded scored Zalewski to put them up 9-5.
Penn State would not go down without a fight as Greg Guers hit a two run home run off of Kent State closer Josh Pierce with one out in the bottom of the ninth to cut the Kent State lead to 9-7. Penn State could not capitalize on the last minute surge as Haley grounded into a 4-3 double play to end the game.
“It felt good to hit two big homers, but we lost so it’s not as great. I was just looking for pitches I could handle and luckily I got two big swings out of it,” said Guers.
Penn State will continue the season with a three game weekend series as they go on the road to Columbus, Ohio to take on the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Mike D’Avella is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.