SB: Costly Error In Final Inning Dooms Nittany Lions
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.--Penn State (20-26, 6-11 B1G) entered the start of the seventh inning with a 4-2 lead. Even with the bases loaded, they were one strike away from walking out of Beard Field with a series sweep of Rutgers (12-31, 3-12 B1G).
It all came crashing down with a routine fly ball to left field. Tori Dubois lost it in the sun, allowing all three runners on base to score, and Rutgers to steal a 6-4 win.
The Scarlet Knights were able to get out to a 1-0 lead in the top of the first off a Rebecca Hall RBI single. Penn State would tie the game at 1 in the bottom half of the inning after Kristina Brackpool was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.
Rutgers starting pitcher Shayla Sweeney was pulled after giving up the run. She lasted only ⅓ inning, giving up one earned run on one hit and two walks. Whitney Jones came on in relief and went the distance from there. She pitched 6 ⅔ innings, giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits with one walk.
The Nittany Lions would take their first lead of the game in the second inning after a Tori Dubois RBI single that brought Rebecca Ziegler around to score. They would add another run in the fourth as Ziegler had an RBI single of her own to score Christa Wagner and make it a 3-1 lead after four innings.
Asked about Ziegler’s performance, Lehotak said “Hopefully she keeps doing what she’s doing...she’s been building and being consistent...getting better and better every weekend. I think she’s really starting to get a deep understanding of the game”. Ziegler finished 2-3 on the day with a run, a walk, two hits and a RBI.
They would add to the lead in the fifth, with Sam Shanahan pinch hitting into an RBI ground-out. Pinch runner Amanda Ferlisi would come around to score, making it 4-1 Penn State heading into the sixth inning. Rutgers would get one back in the top of the sixth though, when Anyssa Iliopoulos doubled, scoring Nicole Bowman to put the score at 4-2 heading into the seventh.
That would mark the end of Marlaina Laubach’s day on the mound. She went six innings, throwing 103 pitches, giving up two earned runs on nine hits and a walk with two strikeouts. Lehotak would replace Laubach with Madison Seifert, who allowed four earned runs on four hits in an inning of work.
When asked about the switch, Lehotak responded: “They were getting on her, they had already seen her. I would put Seifert back in again. We usually make that play...99 out of 100 we make it, other times it just doesn’t happen.”
In the seventh, things unraveled with the error by Dubois on the fly ball by Bowman and Carly Todd’s RBI single brought her around to score. Reflecting on the game and series as a whole, Lehotak commented: “We won the week. We won the series against Rutgers, we knew they would fight to the last inning. Tomorrow starts a new week and it’s all about winning next week.”
The Nittany Lions will be off until Wednesday, when they host a doubleheader against St. Francis. They travel to Maryland for a three-game series next weekend.
Zach Kaplan is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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