Penn State Baseball Preview vs. Minnesota
In a season of ups and downs, but mainly downs, Penn State finds itself ascending with a chance to expand upon its recent success this weekend against Minnesota.
The Nittany Lions have won three of their last four games, including their last two following a win over Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday evening.
The Nittany Lions took two of three from the Purdue Boilermakers last weekend which gave them their first Big Ten series win in nearly a year.
The Golden Gophers should be an easier task for the Nittany Lions this weekend. They are on a four-game losing streak and have watched their record fall to 10-24 overall and 1-8 in conference play.
Part of this recent stretch for Penn State has been the ability of the offense to produce more runs. In their last four games, the Nittany Lion offense has produced 35 runs.
Leading the offensive charge has been Matt Wood. Wood is batting .412 on the season with six home runs and 29 RBI from near the top of the Penn State lineup. Wood’s batting average is best in the Big Ten conference.
As of late, Wood has not been on his own as Jay Harry, Josh Spiegel and Cole Bartels have been adding contributions of their own.
Spiegel had seven RBI in the series against Purdue and added one more in the win over Mount St. Mary’s.
As for the pitching staff that they will be facing this weekend, things have not been trending in the right direction. The Minnesota staff has a combined ERA of 6.41, which ranks second to last in the Big Ten.
Sam Ireland had led the staff as the ace posting a 4.37 ERA, 1.44 WHIP and 55 strikeouts in 47.1 innings pitched.
Aidan Maldonado adds an ERA of 4.40 and WHIP of 1.42 in 43 innings pitched. Anyone else who has started a game on the mound for Minnesota has not fared well.
The bullpen for coach John Anderson has been solid, but it is often too little too late as the starters do not put the team in a position to succeed.
On the other side of things, the Penn State pitching staff has been up and down all season.
Travis Luensmann leads the staff with 40 innings pitched in nine appearances pitching to an ERA of 4.43. Luensmann pitched six innings on Sunday, allowing just two unearned runs and striking out six. In his last three outings, Luensmann has allowed just one earned run while striking out 17.
Tommy Molsky is the second starter for the blue and white with eight starts on the season. Molsky has pitched to an ERA of 6.00 in 36 innings pitched.
For any other Penn State pitcher, coach Rob Cooper usually has a quick hook pulling them after one or two innings on the bump.
Tyler Shingledecker would be one of the few exceptions, pitching in 8.2 innings over his last three outings with 16 strikeouts.
This Nittany Lion pitching staff will be pitching to a lineup ranked towards the bottom of the nation. The Golden Gophers have combined for a team batting average of .239 which ranks in the bottom twenty in the nation.
Jack Kelly leads the team in batting average at .339 as the early season leader, Easton Bertrand, has not appeared since early March. Kelly also adds six home runs for Minnesota.
The one power threat in the Minnesota lineup comes from Chase Stanke. Stanke has 10 home runs on the season, but has struggled in many of the other offensive categories.
Facing a struggling lineup and pitching staff, should be music to the ears of Rob Cooper and the Nittany Lions as they are in prime position for a Big Ten sweep.
First pitch of this series is set for 7 p.m. on Friday.
Justin Ciavolella is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
About the Contributors
Justin Ciavolella is a first-year student from Sayville, New York, and is majoring in broadcast journalism. Justin is involved in the sports department at CommRadio doing podcasts and articles. He plans to do play-by-play on sports schedules in the near future.