Penn State Comes Up Short in Series Finale, Nebraska Completes Weekend Sweep
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — It was a picture-perfect day at Medlar Field on Sunday morning. However, it was a tough day for Penn State as the Nittany Lions fell to Nebraska 5-3, getting swept in the process.
The Nittany Lions’ biggest problem was that they struggled at the plate. The loss puts Penn State at 8-16, while Nebraska improves to 18-6.
“Nebraska is a really good team; there’s a reason why they’re in first place,” head coach Rob Cooper said in his opening statement. “We got to get better, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Cooper added.
On the mound for the Nittany Lions was Kyle Virbitsky, who had been great as of late, but Sunday he struggled at times. The junior often found himself in trouble with runners on in most innings, sometimes finding a way to work his way out of the jams. Virbitsky pitched five innings, allowing four runs on six hits with six strikeouts.
“[Virbitsky] pitched great,” Cooper said. “He competed. That’s a good hitting team, and he kept them off-balance. If we make plays, it’s a totally different game.”
“The wins and losses aren’t about one guy, especially in baseball,” Cooper continued. “It’s just about the respect for your teammates that you’re going to go out and give them everything you have.”
In the top of the fifth inning, Leighton Banjoff singled, bringing home Max Anderson and Cam Chick and putting Nebraska up 4-1. That proved the difference maker, as Penn State couldn’t close the gap.
After two scoreless innings, Nebraska scored at least one run in each inning until the seventh when Tyler Shingledecker took the Cornhuskers down in order. Shingledecker was outstanding in relief, going four innings and giving up only one run on one hit with six strikeouts.
“The last three innings, [Shingledecker] was lights out—as good as you could get,” Cooper said. “Shingledecker did a great job at keeping the Nebraska bats quiet, but his teammates struggled to get the bats going.
Penn State did score a run in the bottom of the sixth. Curtis Robison drove Justin Williams home on a fielder’s choice. However, that was the last run the Nittany Lions scored, as the Nebraska pitching staff shut the door.
“I think we need to be better,” Cooper said about his team’s hitting. “We had runners in scoring position and didn’t do some stuff with it.”
The Diamond Lions finished the day batting .226 as a team. The area that hurt them the most was when they had runners in scoring position; in that situation, Penn State went 1 for 9 (.111).
Penn State will look to get back on track when it travels to face Ohio State next weekend. The series is set to go from April 23-25 in Columbus with Game 1 set for Friday at 6:05 p.m.
Matthew Scalzo is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.