Lions drop rubber match to Wolverines
The Penn State Nittany Lions (10-20, 2-6 B1G) dropped the final game of its series to the Michigan Wolverines (21-14, 6-6 B1G) on Sunday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Michigan jumped to an early lead in the second inning, starting with a Cody Bruder double down the third baseline. Jake Bivens then bunted Bruder to third and reached first on Penn State third baseman Ryky Smith’s throwing error. Bruder would then score when Kyle Jursick grounded into a double play.
“I think we can play so much better than we’ve been playing,” said starting pitcher Nick Distasio.
Distasio lasted 5.1 innings for the Nittany Lions giving up three runs on seven hits and a walk to the Wolverines.
“His fastball command was outstanding, but he needs to go after guys with his off-speed stuff with the same intensity,” head coach Rob Cooper said about Distasio’s performance.
After a Michigan sacrifice fly in the third inning extended the Wolverines lead to 2-0, the Nittany Lions responded by getting runners on first and second in the bottom of the third and Michigan’s second baseman Jacob Cronenworth bobbled Greg Guers’ single allowing for the runner on second to score. In the fourth inning, Penn State tied the game at two after Christian Helsel singled to left field, stole second, advanced to third on a groundout and then scored on a passed ball.
“I felt good. I was getting my foot down early and I was reading pitches and seeing the ball well today,” first baseman Helsel said.
After Penn State was able to tie the game at 2, Michigan then took the lead again in the sixth with a Carmen Benedetti single. Then, in the seventh, Michigan scored a run on a double by Travis Maezes and another two runs on a Ryky Smith throwing error, extending the lead to 6-2.
“Errors are part of the game but we are giving up too much free baseball,” said Cooper.
Two more runs crossed the plate for Michigan in the top of the eighth inning on a bizarre double to the pitcher by Travis Maezes. Maezes hit a line shot straight back to Penn State pitcher Jack Anderson and the ball deflected off of Anderson and fell into shallow left field resulting in the Wolverines to take an 8-2 lead.
Penn State scored its third and final run of the game in the bottom of the eighth on a double by Helsel knocking in Aaron Novak who reached on a single to right center field.
“It’s tough coming out winning big the first game and not winning the next two,” said Helsel.
The two hour and fifty minute game ended in an 8-3 loss for the Nittany Lions.
“On Tuesday, we need to come to the ballpark with the mindset that we are going to win and play cleaner baseball,” said Cooper.
Penn State will travel to Morgantown, West Virginia on Tuesday to take on West Virginia at 6:05 p.m.
Mandy Bell is a freshman majoring in Broadcast Journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.