Penn State Baseball Drops Afternoon Doubleheader to Michigan
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – After a huge upset victory on Friday, Penn State drops both games in a double header against Michigan.
The Nittany Lions lost the first game that got ugly near the end by a final score of 17-4. Penn State fought back in the second game, but was unable to maintain the lead.
Michigan scored two runs to tie it up in the ninth inning to force a tenth. The Wolverines wild come from behind victory was created by a throwing error and some wild pitches from Steven Miller.
Coach Rob Cooper said that guys were hurting after fighting hard in the second game.
“It was a tough day at the ballpark, obviously. Things got away from us but I’m proud of our kids regrouping. Had a chance to win but we just didn’t get it. Got to keep grinding,” Cooper said.
In the first game, Conor Larkin had seven strikeouts in the first few innings, which kept the game close. Johnny Piacentino started the scoring, hitting a homerun giving Penn State a 1-0 lead that would last until the fourth inning.
The score was tied at 4-4 when Penn State pulled their starting pitcher Larkin. Michigan scored four runs after this and Penn State’s bullpen struggled the rest of the game. Coach Cooper had five different pitchers play the rest of the way after he pulled Larkin.
Penn State looked like a different team to start the second game. Kyle Virbitsky started on the mound the second game for the Nittany Lions. He continued to throw heat as he did against Maryland in his last start. He tied his career high in strikeouts with seven.
They went up 5-1 after an electric third inning. It all started from a double by Jay Harry that put a runner on second and third.
The Nittany Lions tallied several runs once they got the bases loaded after a walk from Michigan’s starting pitcher Blake Beers. The Wolverines were not hesitant to bring in Ben Dragani from their bullpen.
This did not help as he threw a wild pitch and walked Tyson Cooper with loaded bases giving Penn State the easy 5-1 lead.
The rest of the ballgame featured strong performances from pitchers Jacob Denner and Mason Mellott. Both pitchers did not allow a single hit for three straight innings until Michigan tied the game in the ninth.
A crucial error from Penn State’s defense allowed Michigan to tie up the game forcing extra innings. The Wolverines carried their momentum and took their first lead of the game since the second inning from hits by Jordon Rogers and Christian Molfetta.
“We made plays when we needed to make plays. They are humans and they weren’t trying to make errors,” Cooper said when asked about the sloppy play near the end of the game.
Although today’s outcome is not what Penn State had hoped for, coach Cooper said this loss was not the fault of one player.
“The first game got away from us but the second game not so much. It is a team game, so we just got to be better as a collective group,” Cooper said.
The Nittany Lions will travel for a seven-game road stretch with three games versus Rutgers and two against both Michigan State and Purdue.
Austin Groft is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.