Nittany Lions defeat the Golden Griffins in home opener

Story posted March 19, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Mandy Bell

Despite a 12-inning marathon game in Pittsburgh the night prior, the Penn State Nittany Lions (3-13) had enough gas left in the tank to take home its third win of the season against the Canisius Golden Griffins (7-13) in the home opener at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Penn State’s starting pitcher, Geoff Boylston, gave up an early run with two outs in the first inning after back-to-back doubles by Canisius’ Connor Panas and Jesse Puscheck. After a ground out to second base ended the top half of the first inning, Penn State came to the plate hungry.

“One of the things we try to talk about is if the other team scores, we want to try and answer,” said head coach Rob Cooper.

Penn State’s Taylor Skerpon lead off the bottom half of the inning with a walk, followed by a single by Greg Guers. With men on first and second and one out, Penn State put on a double steal to advance the runners to second and third.  J.J. White then stepped up to the plate and was able to get on top of a high and inside pitch and drive it back at the pitcher.  The ball ricocheted off of the pitcher and trickled just far enough away for the runner on third to score and White to reach safely at first. 

White’s RBI single started a four run inning for the Nittany Lions with an RBI single by shortstop Jim Haley, followed by a Derek Jeter-like inside-out bloop single to shallow right by Ryky Smith to bring in two more runs.

Putting the run he gave up in the first inning behind him, Boylston showed dominance over Canisius the next five innings by only allowing three hits and striking out a career-high eight batters.

“I was just able to locate my fastball.  If you can do that consistently, you’re going to be successful,” said Boylston.

The fifth-year senior left the game after the sixth inning with a 7-1 lead after the Nittany Lions tacked on three more runs in the fifth with an Aaron Novak RBI single up the middle and a passed ball by catcher Nick Capitano.

“Our philosophy is if we get a runner on second base with nobody out, we should score them every time,” said Cooper.

The Penn State offense proved this theory correct when they added two more runs in the seventh inning when Ryky Smith lead off with a double to right center field. 

“We kind of set the tone in the bottom of the first inning, we’re going to come out and be aggressive tonight and we are going to swing the bat,” said Smith.

The offense continued to be aggressive until the very end when they added their final two runs of the game in the bottom of the eighth to extend the lead to 11-1.  Smith drove in a career-best four runs on the evening.

“When you play with confidence good things happen for you,” said Smith.  “I am just playing with a lot of confidence.”

The Nittany Lions have now won two consecutive games after a rough 1-13 start to the season.  With a big conference series against Indiana this coming weekend, Penn State hopes their confidence continues.

“The team had their own meeting, I didn’t tell them to call it, they did it and I got a text from one of the players saying ‘Hey, we’re going to change some things,’” said Cooper. 

Penn State will host the Indiana Hoosiers this Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. 

Mandy Bell is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism.  To contact her, email amb6857@psu.edu.