Penn State Holds On To Take Down Bucknell

Story posted April 20, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Mandy Bell

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – In front of a crowd of almost one thousand fans, the Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the Bucknell Bison 9-5 Tuesday evening.

The Nittany Lions (23-14, 8-4 B1G) jumped out to an early lead, putting up five runs in the bottom of the first inning. 

“I’ve been in a game where, when I was a player, we were down eight runs with two outs and two strikes and we came back and won the game.  As long as there’s a pitch left, the game is not over,” said Penn State head coach Rob Cooper.  “So even though we scored five, we still have to play the rest of the game.  You have to respect the game or else this game is going to jump up and bite you.” 

Greg Guers continued his hot streak, knocking in James Coates on a single to right field. Guers went 9-for-12 last weekend against Northwestern and at the conclusion of the third inning in Tuesday’s game, Guers was named the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association National Hitter of the Week.

“It seems like every time I’m swinging the bat I’m finding a hole somewhere so that’s always good,” Guers said. “You just stick to the same approach that you have been having.  It’s been working, so I’m not adjusting it too much right now.  It’s been good.”

After throwing three scoreless innings and striking out five batters, Eli Nabholz gave up back-to-back singles that led to an RBI groundout by Chuckie Scales.

“I’m trying to get a little more confidence in hitting spots. That was the game plan today,” Nabholz said.  “It’s easy when [Ryan Sloniger and Guers] are driving in runs and getting us a lead so it enables us to kind of dig in and do your thing and it was nice.”

Because Bucknell’s starting pitcher P.J. Strahm was not able to escape the first inning, Connor Van Hoose came in in relief and shut down the Nittany Lions by pitching 2.2 scoreless innings and striking out four batters.

In the bottom of the fifth inning, Sloniger doubled to right field bringing home both Keith Leavitt and Connor Klemann to take a 7-1 lead.

“I just had to change my approach.  I’ve felt a lot better in every game.  I swung the barrel to the ball, stayed in the middle of the field and felt good tonight.”  Sloniger said.  “I haven’t drove a ton of runs in but I’m trying to be successful whenever I have the opportunity.”

Sloniger also had an RBI single to right field to make him 2-for-4 on the night with four RBIs.  

“It’s hard enough being a freshman and trying to get adjusted to Division I baseball.  You’re asking a guy to do that behind the plate and that’s not easy to do,” Cooper said.  “I thought [Sloniger] did a great job today.”

Despite a 7-1 deficit, Bucknell (16-24) did not go down easily.  In the top of the seventh inning, Brett Smith had an RBI single to right field to make the score 7-2.  Shortly after that, Joe Ogren accomplished one of the most difficult plays in baseball. 

Ogren sent a ball into right-center field that Penn State’s James Coates missed in a diving attempt.  The ball rolled to the fence and as Leavitt and Coates struggled to pick up the ball and throw it in, Ogren was running the base paths.  Ogren scored and successfully hit an inside-the-park home run cutting the score to 7-5.

Penn State did not budge on Bucknell’s late-game rally as the Nittany Lions tacked on two more runs on a throwing error and a Tyler Kendall sacrifice fly to center field in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Penn State’s closer, Jack Anderson, came in in the 9th inning and retired the side to pick up his ninth save of the season.

Penn State will travel to Kent, Ohio on Wednesday at 6 p.m. to take on Kent State. 

 

Mandy Bell is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email amb6857@psu.edu.