Penn State Falls to Columbia After Ninth Inning Meltdown
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Redshirt freshman Eric Mock got the start for the Nittany Lions on Sunday. Mock had made five appearances this season, and has been on a restrictive pitch count, as a result of receiving Tommy John’s surgery a year ago. Mock came into the game with an 0-1 record, but he has posted in impressive 1.38 ERA. Mock did quick work to start things out in the top half of the first inning, striking out two batters to retire the first three Columbia batters.
Ty Weist got the start for Columbia this afternoon, and like Mock, he also missed all of last season as a result of receiving Tommy John surgery. He also had a quick first inning on the mound, retiring the top of the Penn State order in just seven pitches.
Weist’s next inning was much less efficient, needing 26 pitches to retire the side. Braxton Giavedoni got on board in the second inning after being hit by a pitch, and then subsequently stealing second base on a hit and run attempt from Jordan Bowersox. With two outs in the inning, Joe Weisenseel drove Giavedoni in to score with a single up the middle to give Penn State the early 1-0 lead. The Nittany Lions scored a second run in the inning, as a delayed steal attempt from Weisenseel caused a throwing error from Matt Karo that allowed Keith Leavitt to score.
Eric Mock threw 55 pitches on the day and was pulled after a stellar 4 ⅓ innings of work, allowing just two hits on the afternoon and striking out seven batters to just one walk. Nick Distasio entered the game to replace him, but Columbia tied the game at 2-2 after a two-RBI single up the middle with two outs from leadoff hitter Julian Bury. The next batter, Ben Porter, drove in Bury with another hit up the middle to give Columbia a 3-2 lead in the top of the fifth inning.
Meanwhile, ever since the bottom half of the second inning, Ty Wiest was nearly flawless through six innings. The 6’1 junior shut down the top half of the order for Penn State, which combined to go just 1-15 in the first two thirds of the game. Wiest concluded his afternoon with just three hits allowed and one earned run through 6 ⅓ innings pitched, to go along with three strikeouts.
Jordan Bowersox then led off the bottom of the seventh inning with his team-leading seventh double of the season off of Wiest before he exited the game. Christian Helsel was able to move Bowersox over to third on a groundout, but a subsequent flyout from Keith Leavitt and strikeout from Ryan Sloniger kept the score at 3-2 in favor of Columbia.
Harrisen Egly, Wiest’s successor, kept the lead for Columbia in the seventh inning, but the eighth was a different story. Penn State’s bats finally came to life as Giavedoni cashed in an RBI double to score Nick Riotto. A few pitches later, Bowersox singled to right field to bring in Giavedoni and give Penn State a late 4-3 lead.
Penn State manager Rob Cooper stuck with Distasio in the top of the ninth for his fourth inning, which is longer than Distasio normally throws. Distasio had the lead to work with for the first time in his outing, but Columbia responded in emphatic fashion. Still with no outs, A.J. DiFillipo delivered a bases-clearing double to propel Columbia to a 6-4 lead. A subsequent sacrifice fly off the bat of Shane Adams scored Columbia’s fourth run of the inning to make the score 7-4.
The hit parade continued in the top of the ninth for Columbia, as Chandler Bengtson crushed an RBI triple to center field off of Penn State reliever Tom Mullin to make it an 8-4 game. Tucker Triebold quickly replaced Mullen and finally recorded the last out of the inning.
Ian Burns entered the game in the bottom of the ninth to close things out for the Lions, and did so without too much trouble. The Nittany Lions managed to get one run back, but they could not climb all the way out of hole they dug themselves in the ninth, as Columbia triumphed by a score of 8-5.
Ian Burns was credited with the save and the win, while Distasio suffered his first loss of the season. The Nittany Lions drop to 9-13 on the year and will take on Binghamton at University Park on Tuesday evening.
Will Desautelle is a freshman majoring broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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