Penn State Baseball Walks Off on St. Bonaventure in Extra Innings
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – It wasn’t easy for Penn State’s baseball team (9-13 overall, 1-2 Big Ten) to topple a winless St. Bonaventure squad (0-15).
However, after squandering an opportunity to put the Bonnies away in the bottom of the ninth inning, the Nittany Lions came back and sealed the deal in the 10th, courtesy of sophomore Jay Harry’s RBI single which brought home Matt Wood for the game-winning run and allowed Penn State to take a 3-2 victory.
Strong pitching was a theme for Penn State throughout the game’s early stages. Kellan Tulio started the game for the Nittany Lions and pitched a perfect inning, followed by Tommy Molsky, Jordan Morales and Carson Kohls, who all came in and threw perfect innings of their own.
Things were a little rockier for the Bonnies, as starting pitcher Tripp Breen would struggle to end the first inning after striking out Penn State’s first two batters. Breen walked both Wood and Cole Bartels, before Harry ripped a ball into right field, scoring Wood for what would turn out to be the first of two times during the game.
The Nittany Lions added another run in the second inning, but St. Bonaventure’s offense and defense both began to come alive during the game’s middle stages, as the Bonnies kept Penn State from scoring again and got both their first hit and run of the game in the fifth inning before Jack Putney’s RBI tied the game in the seventh.
Penn State’s pitcher by committee approach remained into the ninth inning, when freshman Chase Renner took the mound to try and set up a walk-off opportunity for the Nittany Lions in the bottom of the inning.
After starting the inning with a four-pitch walk and six straight balls, Renner dug deep and rallied, ending the inning with a three-pitch strikeout.
St. Bonaventure pitcher Gabe Watts then threw a four-pitch walk to the lead-off hitter in Ben Kailher, and a sacrifice bunt from Jake Cooper followed by another walk to Josh Spiegel put runners on first and second base with only one out in the inning.
Billy Gerlott then ripped what momentarily looked to be the game-winning RBI into center field. However, outfielder Ben Berger was able to run up and make the grab for the second out, quickly throwing back to the second baseman before Kailher, who likely thought the ball would drop, could get back to tag the base and prevent the inning-ending out.
Renner once again did the job in the top of the 10th, retiring the three batters that he faced in short order.
This gave Penn State another opportunity to win the game, and Wood and Bartels would once again get aboard to put runners at first and second base with one out.
Harry then came up to end the evening the same way he started it, roping a ball to right field and allowing Wood to slide home safely before the tag could come, giving Penn State the dramatic win.
“[He] was feeding me a lot of curveballs, so after I fouled that first fastball off, I knew it was coming,” Harry said. “So I sat in and just wanted to hit it hard somewhere.”
Head coach Rob Cooper praised the performance of both teams in his comments after the game, as the winless Bonnies took Penn State to extra innings for the first time all season.
“I think that today really underlined how mentally demanding and how difficult the game of baseball is,” Cooper said. “St. Bonaventure, you gotta give them a lot of credit… That sure didn’t look like a team trying to find their first win. And that’s why baseball’s hard.”
Penn State baseball will be back in action on Friday, April 1, when the Nittany Lions kick off their three-game series at Maryland.
Kasey Kreider is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
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