Penn State Baseball Scrapes by Omaha in Gritty Victory

Story posted May 1, 2022 in Sports, CommRadio by Molly White

For the second game in the three-game series between Penn State and Omaha, the Nittany Lions looked to win the series on a beautiful Happy Valley evening.

The Nittany Lions pulled out a close one, winning its second straight one-run game, this time by a final of 4-3.

The blue and white had a rough start Saturday, trailing Omaha throughout the day. It managed to regroup and shut them out through the last three innings, where they were able to capitalize offensively and take a one-run lead.

Senior pitcher Tyler Shingledecker made his third start of the season for the Nittany Lions. He locked in and went three straight innings while only allowing one hit, two walks, and no runs.

Despite the slow start, the Nittany Lions brought in their momentum from Friday’s victory, taking a big three-run lead with RBI singles by both shortstop Jay Harry and designated hitter Matt Wood.

Rolling into the top of the sixth, the Mavericks capitalized on relief pitcher Steven Miller’s weakening arm and recorded two more base hits. Miller was replaced by Mason Mellott with the bases loaded.

Mellott, on damage control in Happy Valley, put up a great fight but was unable to stop the momentum Omaha created against Miller. Off RBI singles by Will Hanafan and Jack Lombardi, Omaha tied the game at 3-3.

Joey Machado, making a relief appearance on the mound for the Mavericks, held himself out for two innings, but broke slightly in his third frame. The senior allowed two base hits in the bottom of the seventh, along with two steals by Wood and Derek Cease.

Harry earned his second RBI of the day with another single, allowing the Nittany Lions to take the lead once again.

After this game-changing play, the rest was history for the Nittany Lions, as Jordan Morales closed the game without allowing a hit.

Matt Wood and Jay Harry both controlled Penn State’s offensive performance, putting two RBIs each on the board.

The Nittany Lions and Mavericks will face each other one more time this weekend, with Penn State looking to take the sweep and creep back towards a .500 win percentage.

Morales earned himself the win, going up to 3-0 on the year.

Wood is one of the best power hitters in collegiate baseball. He currently leads the Big Ten with a .415 batting average on the season and was a huge part of the Nittany Lion success in this game, accounting for two RBIs and continuing his 23-game hit streak.

Despite his individual success at the plate, he praises his teammates for the baserunning that made all the difference for them throughout these last two close games.

“Cease with the stolen base to get into scoring position for Jay [Harry]; those are the things that win ball games. I said it earlier in the year, but these are the things that go so unnoticed that are huge in winning the game,” Wood said.

Cease, a true freshman, has done an excellent job making a name for himself this season as a walk-on player. He was brilliant on the basepaths and in his plate appearances, despite only playing in five games so far this year. He accounted for two of the runs scored and one game-changing steal.

This being the second game in a row where Penn State had to play 100% through the full nine innings to secure another tally in the win column, Cooper was asked how his team manages to stay calm and get the job done in these high-pressure situations.

“When you’re in close games, that's what keeps you whole, you want to be in games that matter, you want to be in games where you have to compete. But the thing that I always go back to that I am really proud of right now is how the score, the team, the situation, is not dictating how they approach it, and the energy is the same throughout,” Cooper said.

Penn State will be looking to sweep the series in game three on Sunday at 11 p.m., and a win tomorrow would put them at .500 on the season.

Molly White is a second-year majoring in kinesiology, to contact her, her email is mkw5766@psu.edu.