BASE: Nittany Lions Open Up Columbia Series With Win
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Nittany Lions (8-11, 0-0 Big Ten) began their four-game weekend series against the Columbia Lions (1-12, 0-0 Ivy League) at Medlar Field on Friday night. Penn State’s previously struggling offense found its swing in an 11-7 victory over Columbia.
“I think everyone had very competitive at bats today and its exciting especially because we struggled last weekend and put up the kind of game we did offensively as a group today. It goes along way moving forward,” first baseman Willie Burger said. “I think at Delaware last weekend we got punched in the mouth and we never responded and, you know, we didn’t swing the bats great at Bucknell but we never gave in and we were able to squeak out a win.”
On Friday, Penn State struck first when Burger singled for 2 RBIs and Joe Weisenseel and Ryan Sloniger worked it home in the third inning, while starting pitcher Sal Biasi worked the first four innings.
Biasi cemented the win through five innings pitched, three earned runs on two hits and eight strikeouts. His three lost runs came during the top of the fifth after two consecutive walks and Columbia’s third baseman Randell Kanemaru’s three-run homer.
“I give Sal Biasi a lot of credit because he is such a competitive guy and in the past something like that would have really set him off a bit and gotten him out of control a bit pitching wise. He came back and got the next guy out,” head coach Rob Cooper said. “That guy is a good player. He pitched well, that’s baseball and our guys responded.”
Although a few defensive errors on both sides of the ball kept the game relatively close, the fifth inning swung momentum completely into Penn State’s dugout when they had seven hits for nine runs. A Nick Riotto walk and a Columbia pitching change from right-hander Ethan Abrams to right-hander Dan Harrington sparked the Nittany Lions strong offensive showing and their recapture of the lead.
“I thought we all swung the bats great today collectively as a group,” Burger said.
Willie Burger’s double to left-center brought in the first of the nine runs, while Jordan Bowersox, Braxton Giavedoni, Sloniger and Riotto all followed suit with RBIs. The offense’s ignited bats even allowed Joe Weisenseel to redeem his poor batting average (.074) and his early-inning out at home when he later singled, stole a base and eventually scored an unearned run at the closing of the fifth.
“It felt really good to get that win under my belt. At one point I knew it was going to come,” shortstop Weisenseel said. “…It’s big to get that game under my belt and to build off of that and move forward.”
Although Columbia crept back from their 11-3 fifth inning deficit, the Penn State Nittany Lions were able to maintain their lead for a second straight victory.
“Some days are the game of baseball, you know,” Burger said. “You are going to have more games like today than Delaware if you bring that competitive energy every single day.”
Penn State hopes to continue their winning ways into a sweep this weekend against the Columbia Lions. The first game of their Saturday double-header starts at 1 p.m. with the first pitch.
Madeleine Balestrier is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email email@example.com.