Penn State bats come alive in early innings against Bucknell

Story posted April 16, 2015 in Sports, CommRadio by Mark Fagnani

Penn State got an early lead Wednesday evening and never looked back.

The bats came alive quickly for Penn State (12-20, 2-6) in their 11-2 victory over the visitng Bucknell Bison (18-17, 4-8) at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The Nittany Lions scored their first runs off the starter for Bucknell, Austin Zimmerman. Zimmerman only lasted 2/3 of an inning after giving up five runs on four hits.

Jim Haley started the rally for Penn State with a single through the left side to score Aaron Novak for the first run of the game. Greg Guers, Haley, Nick Riotto, and Taylor Skerpon would tack on 4 more runs to put Penn State up 5-0 in the first inning. Prior to this game, Penn State had only scored nine total runs in the first inning throughout the season.

The second inning was more of the same for the Penn State offense, going out and scoring three more runs. After Guers reached on a base hit and both Haley and Riotto getting hit by Bucknell’s relief pitcher Max Kra, Christian Helsel would make them pay by hitting a ball through the 5-6 hole. This scored both Guers and Haley. Riotto would also score on an error by the shortstop to make the hometown Lions lead 8-0.

Scoring early and often would make the first time starter, Tom Mulin’s day a lot easier.

“It’s always nice to have the offense go in with eight runs in the first two innings, that really helps calm your nerves,” Mulin said. This would be Mulin’s first win as a starter.

“It was fun to watch today. He’s one of my hometown boys, he’s close to home, so it’s nice to see him go out there and get a win,” said Haley of his former high school teammate.

Mulin was told just the day before that he was getting the start on the hill. Coach Rob Cooper said when asked about Mulin’s reaction to the news, “He was pumped. He showed he can do it and that’s good to see out of him.”

Haley, who has been struggling as of late, would have a big day going 2-4 with an RBI and a run.

 “Simplifying my swing. Staying short to the ball and having a better approach at the plate was the difference to today’s game.”

Bucknell would score two runs on the day, one on a sacrifice fly by Rob Krentzman that would score Joe Ogren in the fourth. The other run would come when Jon Mayer and Mark Powell connected for consecutive doubles, Powell’s hit scoring Mayer.

Penn State would also tack on a couple more runs in the later innings with two coming on pass balls and wild pitches and another off a J.J. White bloop single to center that would bring Ryan Richter in to score.

Penn State will go on the road next to Minneapolis on Friday to face off against the Minnesota Golden Gophers in Big Ten Conference play at 7 p.m.

Mark Fagnani is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email at markfagnani14@gmail.com.