Penn State drops second of three to Michigan
Penn State’s hot bats could not keep up with Michigan’s, as the Nittany Lions fell in game two of the three game set with the Wolverines.
After a near shutout in game one, Michigan (20-14, 5-6 Big Ten) put together some runs early in the ballgame, giving Penn State an uphill battle to overcome.
A two-run RBI single by Kendall Patrick gave Michigan an early second inning lead against true-freshman pitcher Taylor Lehman of Penn State (10-19, 2-5 Big Ten).
The offense gave Lehman one run in the bottom of that inning, after a James Coates double and RBI single from Ryky Smith, who came into the series batting .418 in his last 10 games.
Designated hitter Kyle Jusick’s RBI single in the third inning pushed the lead to 3-1. Lehman managed to reach the sixth inning before allowing two runners.
On the game, Lehman made it through five-plus innings, allowing five earned runs on nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
“That was his best outing as far as his stuff, and everything,” Penn State coach Rob Cooper said. “The scary thing is he’s going to be even better… He’s just got to get ahead [of the count]. You saw when he did get ahead, man, he’s a beast to hit against.”
Sal Biasi, another true freshman, entered in relief with runners on the corners and walked the first batter he faced, Jackson Glines, loading the bases for Travis Maezes, whose sac fly pushed the Michigan lead to 4-1.
Penn State’s hot bat did not carry over into this game, despite eight hits on the day, 10 men were left on base as the team batted .222 with runners in scoring position.
“Early, we got a little too out of control with some of our swings instead of really discipline and aggressive," Cooper added. “That’s too many guys to leave on base … We have been doing a decent job of that lately and we got to continue to have some competitive at-bats.“
Michigan’s starting pitcher, Ryan Nutof, gave the Wolverines a quality start, going six innings with five hits and one earned run. Nutof, sporting a 3.25 ERA, made the situational pitches that kept the Nittany Lions at bay.
"That guy starting for them [Ryan Nutof] made some good pitches when he really needed to," said Cooper. “He doesn’t give you a good look at two pitches in a row.”
Pinch hitter Nick Riotto started a rally in the bottom of the ninth, reaching base to lead off the inning. Then sophomore outfielder Greg Guers went yard for his forth homerun of the season, cutting the deficit to 5-3.
A late game comeback was staged, as Penn State’s best hitter, Aaron Novak, was next at-bat. However, Michigan pitcher Bryan Pall struck him out then got a Jim Haley ground out to close the game.
“To me the only difference between yesterday and today from [an effort] standpoint is that yesterday we won, today we lost,” coach Cooper said.
The Wolverines and Nittany Lions will take the field 1 p.m. Sunday to decide the winner of this series. ComRadio will have the coverage.
Marley Paul is a junior majoring in digital and print journalism. To contact him, email mdp5300.psu.edu or follow him on Twitter at @MPaulPSU