Nittany Lions trounce Michigan in first of three
Penn State remained dominant at home Friday, crushing Big Ten rival Michigan 11-1 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, improving to an 8-2 record at home.
For the sixth time this season, Penn State (10-18, 2-4 Big Ten) put up more than 10 runs and now have a 5-1 record in those games, losing only the season opener at Elon University.
Nick Hedge earned his first win of the season and first career win in Big Ten play with an impressive showing to complement Penn State’s offensive explosion.
"I know these guys behind me trust me,” Hedge said. “It’s just good to get that first one out of the way."
He took the mound for seven innings throwing 94 pitches, allowing six hits, two strikeouts, and three walks while shutting Michigan (19-14, 4-6 Big Ten) out.
"I wanted to go seven just trying to save the bullpen a little bit," Hedge added.
Penn state head coach Rob Cooper was appreciative of the strong effort from his starting pitcher on the mound.
"I’m really, really proud of Nick Hedge … [he] gave us not a good start, a great start,” Cooper said. “That’s a Friday night start that you need going into a big weekend."
Senior second baseman Taylor Skerpon led the charge offensively, collecting three RBIs while batting 2-for-4 from the plate. It was Skerpon’s second career multi-RBI game. Skerpon also stole his ninth base of the season, tying him for a team-high.
The Big Ten’s fourth-ranked hitter, Aaron Novak, continued his stellar senior season, tallying two hits and an RBI.
Ryky Smith, senior third baseman, hit a two-out single to right field, bringing home two runners to give the Nittany Lions an early 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning.
Smith and company never looked back.
Through the first seven innings, the leadoff man reached base in five of them for the Nittany Lions, keeping the pressure on the Wolverines.
"Nobody wasted at-bats today, and that’s big,” Cooper added. "When you don’t waste at-bats, you make the other team really have to work for outs."
Jared Fagnano relieved Hedge, retiring the side for a 1-2-3 8th inning before conceding Michigan’s only run the 9th inning, preventing the Nittany Lions from attaining their first shutout of the season.
Michigan’s defense was not there. They finished the game with four errors and a few pass balls that enabled Penn State to flow offensively.
Jacob Cronenworth was hit with his third loss of the season after a pedestrian outing, making it through two and two-thirds innings, allowing five hits and four runs with a walk and hit batter.
Michigan head coach Erik Bakich called on his bullpen early in the game. Evan Hill, Donnie Eaton, Oliver Jaskie and Cam Wysocki combined to allow six hits; seven runs, four earned; and four walks through the remaining 5.1 innings.
The two teams will resume play Saturday afternoon with a 2:05 p.m. first pitch at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Marley Paul is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email mdp5300.psu.edu or follow him on Twitter at @MPaulPSU.