Penn State Bullpen Falters in Loss to Nebraska
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa — After playing its last seven games on the road, Penn State returned home to Medlar Field to take on the first place Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Home-field advantage was not enough for the Nittany Lions, though, as Nebraska came away with an 8-2 victory. However, the game was a lot closer than the final score would tell and was just a one-run ballgame through the first six innings.
Coach Rob Cooper was extremely pleased with his team’s effort despite the result.
“I felt like in the first seven innings we went toe to toe and played really good baseball,” Cooper said. “If we keep coming with that competitiveness and energy for nine innings we’re gonna be just fine.”
Starting on the mound for Penn State was Bailey Dees while getting the start for Nebraska was Cade Povich. It was a pitcher’s duel through the first five innings with only the Cornhuskers scoring one run.
That run came in the second inning when second baseman Brice Matthews singled into the right-center field gap which scored Luke Roskam.
The Nittany Lions would get base runners, however, they could not drive them in as they had just two hits in nine at-bats with runners in scoring position.
“I thought we squared some balls up just right at people,” Cooper said. “The problem is you just can't steer it after you hit it.”
Penn State’s offense would finally break through in the sixth inning when third baseman Justin Williams singled into left field scoring Johnny Piacentino from second which tied the game at one.
The next batter of the inning was catcher Matt Wood who roped a ball down the right-field line which scored Williams giving Penn State a 2-1 lead.
Wood’s double would knock Povich out of the game. Povich finished with five-and-two-thirds innings pitched, two runs given up and eight strikeouts.
The Nittany Lions would also go to their bullpen at the start of the seventh inning after Dees pitched six innings, allowing just one run and striking out four.
“To me, that is the best outing I have ever seen him have,” Cooper said. “ He was super competitive and went right after guys not backing down.”
Cooper turned to Jared Freilich to preserve the 2-1 lead, however, Freilich struggled mightily giving up one run, walking three batters, and failing to record an out.
Cooper once again had to go to his bullpen and he called Mason Mellott to keep the game close as he entered with the bases loaded and no outs. Mellott proceeded to strike out the next three Nebraska hitters and keep the game tied at two.
“I thought Mason Mellott was outstanding tonight,” Cooper said.
Unfortunately for Penn State, it could not capitalize on the moment gained by Mellott and its bats went down quietly in the bottom of the seventh.
Mellott came out to pitch the top of the eighth, however, he did not have the same success he did in the seventh. Leighton Banjoff singled, advanced on a wild pitch, and would later come around to score on an RBI single by Griffin Everitt which gave the Cornhuskers a 3-2 lead.
Nebraska would continue to tack on runs as they would score another four in the inning coming off of walks and a two-run single by Cam Chick making the score 7-2.
The Cornhuskers would score one more run on a wild pitch making it an 8-2 game.
“The bullpen needs to do a better job,” Cooper said. “We can not afford to give teams five runs in an inning.”
The Nittany Lions will take on these same Cornhuskers at 1 p.m on Saturday.
Alex Rocco is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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