Penn State Baseball Series Grades vs Michigan
Penn State Baseball took on the Michigan Wolverines this past weekend, ending in a 3-0 series defeat. The Nittany Lions fought hard but left a lot to be desired following their quick trip to Ann Arbor.
Penn State traveled to Ann Arbor with a 12-5 overall record and feeling battle-tested after long road trips to begin the year. However, the beginning of conference play was not friendly to the Nittany Lions, as they fell to Michigan in all three games of the series by a score of 13-4, 12-3 and 3-1.
It was a rough weekend for the blue and white infield, as they combined 7-for-33 at the plate, and allowed four errors during the three-game stretch.
First baseman Anthony Steele failed to get on base in the first two games of the series, and fellow first baseman C.J. Pitarro followed that up with a hitless performance in the third game as well.
Second baseman Kyle Hannon was a tad more productive, notching three hits and two walks against Michigan. Hannon was able to reach base five times overall, but his teammates’ inability to follow him up with continual offense loomed large.
At third, Penn State Head Coach Rob Cooper went with a mixed approach, playing senior Ben Kailher in the first game, and plugging in graduate student Grant Norris in the second and third matchups. Kailher went 0-for-3 in the first outing, but Norris’ experience allowed him to contribute later on in the series— tallying two hits and an RBI to boot.
At shortstop, star Jay Harry held down the fort. Harry went wild to start the series, going .500 at the plate and scoring a run. However, even Penn State’s infield star struggled among his team, going 0-for-8 to finish off the weekend.
The offensive showing from the outfielders was not the issue for the Nittany Lions. Center fielder Johnny Piacentino batted .333 in the series, scoring two runners as well.
Left fielder Tavyen Kelley went 3-for-11 as well, but stranding seven runners on base through three games became an issue for Penn State. Kelley’s lack of timely offense proved detrimental to the Nittany Lions' ability to score runs with men in position.
Right fielder Billy Gerlott played excellently, despite his team suffering back-to-back blowout defeats. Gerlott reached base six times in eight plate appearances, going 3-for-8 with the bat and forcing an additional three walks.
The weekend was a pitching carousel for Penn State, as they rotated a total of 10 pitchers allowing a combined 28 earned runs.
Experienced graduate pitcher Daniel Oudenkirk started things off Friday but struggled early. The 6-foot-9 righty allowed seven earned runs and nine runners on base in three innings of play, before being relieved.
The rest of the game included a mix of the bullpen: relievers Morales, Throneberry, Kohls and Rogers combined for five innings thrown and 13 runners on.
The second day on the mound wasn’t much better for Penn State, as Michigan got to starter Travis Luensmann early and often. The junior right-hander allowed four earned through four innings before reliever Ryan Partridge would spoil any chance of a Penn State comeback.
Partridge through two innings allowed five runs and seven runners on before closer Jacob Coffin would end the night with two shutout innings.
The final day of the weekend was more promising for the Penn State defense, as Jaden Henline would go six innings deep with two earned. Henline shut down the volatile Wolverine’s lineup, allowing only three hits on the day. However, the Nittany Lions struggled to score throughout, and the junior was still given the loss.
Although Penn State struggled away from home, they have an easier road ahead of them. Coach Cooper’s squad begins a nine-game homestand that will last for nearly a month, including two out-of-conference series with Bucknell and Delaware State. The blue and white are 3-0 when playing at Medlar Field.
Parker Silverman is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.