Penn State baseball wins conference opener
Conference play could not have started better for Penn State baseball, as they defeated Northwestern 7-3, in its Big 10 opener at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Nittany Lions trailed most of the night, but took advantage of a huge sixth inning rally to break the game open.
Weather delayed the start an hour and 15 minutes, and once the game finally began, Penn State was almost immediately playing catch up.
Northwestern scored two runs in the top of the first inning. After leadoff man Matt Hopfner struck out on three pitches, Zach Jones and Scott Heelan singled and were driven in by a Jack Livingston double down the left field line. A Tyler Kendall throwing error on a ground ball gave Northwestern runners on second and third with one out, but pitcher TJ Jann was able to retire the next two batters and escape the inning.
“TJ competed his tail off. Two runs and coach Anderson went out there and said we need you to fight right here and he did, and if he doesn’t do that, if he gives in to well this isn’t my day, then we don’t win this game,”said Penn State head coach Rob Cooper.
The Nittany Lions bats were dead early. They didn’t get a hit until the bottom of the third inning. The Penn State offense woke up in the fourth however. JJ White led off the inning with a base hit, and was moved to third on a Greg Guers double. Kendall brought White in with an RBI groundout, and James Coates crushed one to deep right center for a double that brought across Guers.
The top of the fifth inning was troublesome for Jann. Jones got on base with a single, and was driven in once again by Livingston. Livingston hit one up the middle, which was stopped magnificently by Jim Haley, before it left the infield. His throw, however, was not as great, and allowed Jones to score and extended the inning. A Joe Hoscheit single forced Cooper’s hand, and he replace Jann with Ian Parvin, who filled in admirably in relief.
Northwestern’s pitching started on a downward trend in the bottom of the fifth. With the lead, Brandon Magallones threw balls on eight out of nine pitches to put two Penn State runners on base, and White singled to drive in a run to tie the game.
The trend continued in the sixth, in which the Nittany Lions scored four runs. Haley walked on a full count to start off, and was driven in by an Alex Malinsky single. Magallones walked two more batters to load the bases, and walked a third straight to force in a run.
“I thought the patience at the plate was a key to us winning, we were more selective and not chasing pitches,” said Cooper. “There were a lot of two strike at-bats where our guys either battled back in the count and walked or something happened.”
The remainder of the game belonged to Parvin, who allowed only two hits and no walks, in four and one-third innings of work. After fighting through some command problems early in the seventh, he was lights out and shut down the Wildcats.
“I didn’t feel very good, I didn’t have very good control, but I just found a way, and those are the days you just have to dig deep,” said Parvin.
Penn State remains perfect at home with a 5-0 record. It is the Nitanny Lions best home start since the 1997 season.
Michael Katz is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.