Penn State Baseball Takes Series Over Iowa
On a cold, windy day at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the Nittany Lions were able to execute in clutch situations at the plate and on the mound as they defeated Iowa 7-4.
Penn State improves to 10-25 on the season and 2-10 in Big Ten play with the win. This was their first conference series victory of the year. Iowa falls to 14-20 overall and 2-9 in conference play.
Iowa appeared poised to break the game open early when they loaded the bases with nobody out against Penn State starter Greg Welsh in the top of the second. Welsh remained cool under pressure and retired the next three Hawkeyes to keep Iowa off the board.
Welsh found himself in trouble again in the third and allowed the Hawkeyes to score two runs on a pair of RBI singles from Keith Brand and Dan Sheppard. Welsh walked Anthony Torres to load the bases with one out, but retired the next two Hawkeyes to strand the bases loaded for the second consecutive inning.
“Usually there’s one or two innings where you really have to buckle down,” Welsh said. “It was really big for me to get out of those two innings.”
After allowing two runs in the third, Welsh settled down and retired seven consecutive Hawkeye batters.
Penn State responded offensively in the bottom of the third by getting a walk and a single to start the inning from J.J White and Alex Farkes. James Coates sacrificed them over to second and third.
A ground out from Steve Snyder drove home White with the first run of the game. Two batters later, J.C. Coban singled home Farkes to tie the game up at two.
The game remained tied until the bottom of the fifth when Farkes and Coates led off the inning with a pair of bunt singles. Steve Snyder’s sacrifice bunt attempt was booted by Iowa third baseman Jake Yacinich to load the bases.
Penn State shortstop Taylor Skerpon came up next and drilled the first pitch he saw from Iowa starter Sasha Kuebel into the gap in left center field to bring home Farkes and Coates. Coban followed with another two-run double to give Penn State a 6-2 advantage.
Coban is swinging a hot bat of late since tweaking his swing after discussing it with his coaches.
“I changed my hands by choking up a little bit because I wasn’t getting inside the baseball as much as I should be,” Coban said.
Coban, who served as the designated hitter, went 2-4 with three RBIs. He is Penn State’s leading hitter with a .315 batting average. He also leads the team in RBIs with 21.
Kuebel allowed six runs in five innings of work. Penn State handed him his sixth loss of the season.
Iowa fought back in the top of the sixth with a two-out RBI single from Eric Toole. Penn State manager Robbie Wine opted to take Welsh out and go to the bullpen.
The Hawkeyes had Welsh’s pitch count at 110 when he was taken out. Wine said that was a result of good at bats by Iowa.
“They have good eyes at the plate, they put the ball in play, and they foul a lot of tough pitches off,” Wine said.
Welsh allowed six hits and three runs in 5.2 innings pitched while striking out three. He picked up his second win of the year.
Cody Lewis came on for Penn State and had to face Iowa’s Kris Goodman, who was representing the tying run. Lewis became the next Nittany Lion to come through in a tough spot by getting Goodman to fly out to Snyder in centerfield.
Lewis carried Penn State the rest of the way, finishing with five strikeouts in 3.1 innings in relief. Lewis also picked up his second save of the year.
“He’s turned out to be our guy out of the pen recently,” Wine said. “When he went into the game, we expected him to finish it.”
Penn State returns to action on Tuesday when they host the La Salle Explorers.
Dan Cronin is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him email firstname.lastname@example.org