Penn State Comes Out On Top In Tight Battle Against West Virginia
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – With the support of a very enthusiastic student section known as “Cooper’s Town”, the Penn State Nittany Lions defeated the West Virginia Mountaineers 5-4 Tuesday evening at Medlar Field.
“The Cooper’s Town students do an unbelievable job. They are awesome,” head coach Rob Cooper said. “Our guys just love them. They really feed off of it. It’s cool.”
Penn State (8-10) got on the board first in the bottom of the second inning on a hustle play by Conlin Hughes. Keith Leavitt kicked off the inning by drawing a walk on four pitches followed by Christian Helsel getting hit by a pitch. After a walk by James Coates, Hughes stepped up to the plate with bases loaded. Hughes connected for a slow roller to shortstop that he beat out at first base allowing a run to score. As first baseman Jackson Cramer could not come up with the ball cleanly, Helsel came around from second to score the Nittany Lions’ second run.
West Virginia (10-8) answered in the top of the third inning to take a 3-2 lead. With a runner on third, Kyle Davis popped up to shallow right field that Penn State second baseman Helsel could not handle, which allowed the run to come across easily. With Davis on first, Cramer drove the first pitch of the at bat deep into the right field bleachers.
Nick Graham turned things around for the Nittany Lions in the bottom of the fourth inning as he knocked in Jordan Bowersox with a double down the left field line. After advancing to third on a Coates’ ground out, Graham scored the go-ahead run for the Nittany Lions on a wild pitch.
“[Graham is] playing great. He’s been having competitive at-bats and he’s really caught well. He’s a calming influence back there,” Cooper said. “He’s a kid that cares and wants to win.”
After a Darius Hill RBI triple for West Virginia, Penn State regained the lead on a pinch-hit sacrifice fly by Greg Guers. Guers was robbed of an easy double off of the wall when right fielder Hill made a highlight-reel catch running into the fence.
On the play, the runner at third, Jim Haley, assumed that the ball was going over the fence and was already half way to home plate whenever the ball was caught by Hill. Haley raced back to the bag to tag up and was able to still score despite the slight slip up.
“I told him he almost gave his head coach a heart attack,” Cooper said. “But, we are also not in that position if Jimmy doesn’t hammer the baseball and get on third base. I’m proud of how he’s played and how our guys have played.”
Jack Anderson entered the game for his 80th appearance with the Nittany Lions in the top of the eighth inning. Anderson got his way out of a jam with runners on second and third when he decided to take a ground ball himself and beat out Hill to first base to secure the out and end the inning.
“I was taking it all the way,” Anderson said. “I told Burger it was seniority, I needed the ball.”
Anderson closed out the ninth inning forcing two groundouts and striking out Kyle Casserly to end the game and gave the Nittany Lions their eighth win of the season. With this win, Anderson tied his career-high saves in a season with five.
“In a lot of ways we didn’t play great baseball, but it just shows that competitive spirit and having that winning mindset can really put you in a great position to win,” Cooper said. “I’m really proud of our team. That’s a great win for us.”
Penn State will host Rhode Island Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Mandy Bell is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.