Strong Pitching Leads Nittany Lions to Doubleheader Sweep of St. Francis
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. --Back to back dominating performances on the mound propelled Penn State (28-18, 13-4 Big Ten) to a doubleheader sweep of in-state opponent St. Francis (29-20, 9-1 NEC) on Wednesday.
The Nittany Lions took game one 6-0 behind a shutout performance by pitcher Marlaina Laubach. She dealt her 10th complete game of the season, improving to 11-8 in 2016.
The night started off strong for the home team’s starting pitcher. Laubach struck out the first two batters she faced and did not look back from there.
Laubach was supported by an all-around offensive attack by her teammates. Six Penn State players registered hits on the afternoon.
Despite being hitless in the first inning, the Nittany Lions were the benefactors of two walks by Red Flash starter Ketarah DeVries. An errant pitch allowed leadoff hitter Macy Jones to score from third to jump out to a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the third, with runners on first and second, third baseman Shelby Miller turned a double play to get the Lions out of the jam. In the bottom half, Lexi Knief added to the Penn State lead by scoring on another wild pitch by DeVries, who entered the game with a 12-4 record.
The Nittany Lions added to their lead on an Erin Pond single up the middle to take a 3-0 lead.
Laubach continued her strong outing, setting up her team for a three-run explosion in the bottom of the sixth. Macy Jones, Shelby Miller and Lexi Knief all drove in runs in the frame, extending the Lions’ lead to 6-0, where it would remain until the game ended.
Penn State out-hit the Red Flash 9-5. The visitors made one error while their opponents made none.
Game two yielded much of the same for both sides. Penn State’s Madison Seifert took the mound against St. Francis’ Ethel Santai.
Seifert, a freshman, delivered six scoreless innings en route to a 4-2 win, her 11th victory of the season. Santai fell to 5-7 in 2016.
The Nittany Lions wasted no time in getting on the board. Macy Jones sent Santai’s first pitch of the game over the fence for her 10th home run of the year.
The scoring continued with an RBI triple by Lexi Knief in the bottom of the third. Red Flash right fielder Alexis Bower was unable to cut the ball off and the baserunners took advantage.
Knief was brought home on a sacrifice fly ball by Alyssa Vanderveer to give Penn State a 3-0 lead. Vanderveer also contributed an RBI ground out in the bottom of the fifth to give her team a four-run advantage.
The Red Flash bounced back in the top of the sixth on a two-run home run by Alexis Bower. The hit, which brought the score to 4-2, clanked off the scoreboard and was the first run allowed in the prior 12 innings of the doubleheader.
“That’s part of the game. They’re a home run hitting team, so just to get out with just one home run, that’s pretty good against them,” said Seifert, who gave up the hit.
Seifert retired three of four in the top of the seventh to seal the deal for Penn State.
The Red Flash finished the game with four errors and three hits. The home side totaled six hits and only one error.
Up next, the Nittany Lions take on No. 2 Michigan this weekend in a three-game series at Beard Field. The Wolverines are two games ahead of Penn State in the Big Ten standings.
“We have all the components to put up a couple games against them,” said Seifert. “So we’re excited.”
Jonathan Gross is a freshman double-majoring in broadcast journalism and international politics (national security). To contact him, email email@example.com.