BASE: Penn State Salvages Series Finale Against Northwestern
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State Nittany Lions (13-26, 2-10 Big Ten) closed their Blue and White weekend slate against the Northwestern Wildcats (16-23, 5-7 Big Ten) with a 2-1 victory. The Blue and White ended their six-game losing streak with the help of their rookie assets.
“I am extremely proud of our kids,” Penn State head coach Rob Cooper said. “That was a definite battle...We by no means played this game clean, but we played really really good defense. We had unbelievable pitching by Eric Mock and Nick Distasio and we fought.”
After a rough week and weekend series, Penn State’s defense finally showed up to carry their quiet bats. Starting right-handed pitcher Eric Mock, first baseman Willie Burger and outfielder Braxton Giavedoni highlighted the team’s efforts.
“They were awesome. Braxton made that one play and I still don’t know how he caught that…Willie diving at first was huge,” Mock said. “…It’s such a difference when you know you have your defense behind you. It definitely helps you with your confidence and knowing that you can get ahead and challenge your hitters.”
Before Northwestern’s left fielder, Joe Hoscheit, homered in the top of the sixth, Mock led the Nittany Lions through five scoreless innings. Nick Distasio secured the win and relieved Mock in the top of the seventh after the redshirt freshman cemented his dominance with five strikeouts, two hits and only one run.
“It was nice being able to get another start and get into my rhythm” Mock said. “I battled not being able to really get my breaking pitch over and I was falling behind some guys early. So it was a battle…but I stuck with it and when you can throw strikes you are going to get guys out.”
While Mock and Distasio managed to keep the scoreboard quiet, Penn State’s bats began to heat up in the bottom of the seventh with an Alex Malinsky RBI. After five Northwestern pitchers saw the mound, Penn State’s head coach Rob Cooper was ejected and two separate bases-loaded opportunities, freshman Giavedoni secured the victory in the bottom of the ninth.
“Braxton has done a really good job as a freshman for us,” Cooper said. “He was a walk on. This is a kid that has really had to make his own way here and you really root for those kids…and I am really really proud of him.”
Although the seventh inning sparked their swing, Giavedoni carried the momentum into the bottom of the ninth when he took advantage of the bases loaded opportunity his teammates secured. He iced the game with a walk-off RBI single to send third baseman Logan Goodnight home.
“I really want to make this point…you can’t win a game like that after what has been going on if you don’t care,” Coach Cooper said. “I am really proud of their effort and we needed a win and found a way to get one.”
The Penn State Nittany Lions close their five-game home stand against the Lafayette Leopards this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m.
Madeleine Balestrier is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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