Penn State baseball downs NYIT 7-3 in home opener
In their home opener at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the Penn State Nittany Lions (6-12) defeated the visiting NYIT Bears (0-12) 7-3 on Tuesday night. Senior right-hander Ian Parvin (1-1) recorded the win for the Nittany Lions, while NYIT freshman Michael Sinnott (0-1) was charged with the loss. Penn State sidearmer Jack Anderson registered a save (1) after throwing the final three innings.
For new Penn State head coach Rob Cooper, the win came in his first home game at the helm for the Nittany Lions. Despite the chilly March weather and 5:00 p.m. start time, many fans came out to support Cooper in his Happy Valley debut.
“I was really touched by the amount of people that showed up,” Cooper said after the game. “The student group that was there made a lot of noise and did a great job. It was awesome playing at home.”
While Ian Parvin was credited with the win, senior left-hander Greg Welsh started the game for the Nittany Lions. The Holland, PA, native looked sharp in his three innings of work, striking out six of the eleven batters that he faced. Six strikeouts is a season-high for Welsh, who was making his fifth start of the year.
“It was great to see him do it,” commented Cooper when asked about Welsh’s performance. “We wanted to start him today and basically treat it like a bullpen day.”
Penn State had the bats working early, jumping out to a 3-0 lead after three innings of play. Heading into the sixth inning, the Nittany Lions led 4-0 with NYIT coming to the plate. Following explosive sixth and seventh innings from the Bears offense, the Penn State lead was cut to 4-3 by the seventh inning stretch.
However, in the bottom of the seventh, the Nittany Lions scored three runs of their own, swelling the score to 7-3. Catcher Alex Farkes drove in one on a double to right field, and center fielder Steve Snyder plated two, on a clutch single up the middle, off of NYIT reliever Elias Martinez.
“I was out in front of the ball all day, so I made an adjustment that at-bat, to make sure I wasn’t out in front,” Snyder said after the game. “I made good contact, and it worked out.”
The two RBIs in the seventh were Snyder’s second and third of the game, after he drew a bases loaded walk for an RBI in the bottom of the second. His three RBIs are the most that he has had in a game thus far this season.
While Snyder drove in the most run, senior outfielder Zach Ell recorded two RBI’s of his own after going 2-4 with a walk on the day.
“I was put in good situations, with guys in scoring position,” said Ell when asked about his performance after the game. “When you know you can get a good hit and drive guys in, it eases your approach to the plate and your stride.”
The middle of the lineup played a key role in the win, as the 4-5-6 trio of Greg Guers, Taylor Skerpon, and Zach Ell combined for six hits, and two walks in fourteen plate appearances.
“If we can get quality at-bats from our team one through nine, then we have a chance to do some things offensively,” said Cooper. “We have to make the most of our at-bats.”
Although the win was a step in the right direction for the Nittany Lions, it does not erase the team’s early season struggles. Coach Cooper noted that he sees some room for improvement
“We still have too many guys trying to do way too much offensively,” Cooper said. “When you’re trying to do too much, and you’re trying to hit the ball as hard as you possibly can, you don’t give yourself a chance to really get your barrel in there and make solid contact.”
With the back half of the two-game series against NYIT being played on Wednesday, Penn State has little time to dwell on their first home win.
“When we show up tomorrow, we have to be hungry to get another one,” said Cooper. “This game is over, you can’t bring any of the runs forward. NYIT is going to want to get a win, so we’ll have our hands full tomorrow.”
Penn State will search for the sweep against NYIT on Wednesday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. First pitch is scheduled for 5:00 p.m.
Uriah Tagle is a junior majoring in communication arts and sciences and economics. To contact him, email email@example.com