Four Run Eighth Inning Pushes Penn State Past LaSalle
The Penn State baseball team (11-25) broke open a tied ballgame with a four run eighth inning to propel them to a 7-4 win over the La Salle Explorers Tuesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. With the win, the Nittany Lions have now four of their last five, their best five game stretch of the season.
Freshman left hander Nick Hedge was given the starting nod for the midweek contest and delivered arguably his best outing of the year. Hedge, who had only started two games prior, had a career high seven strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work. Those seven strikeouts equaled his season total entering tonight’s start.
“I came out throwing a lot of off-speed stuff which really helped me,” Hedge said after the game. “Last time I went out I stuck to the fastball and my off-speed wasn’t really working too well so it was good to have that working.”
Hedge retired 11 straight batters before Kevin Conroy led off the seventh inning with a first-pitch single down the left field line. La Salle’s clean up hitter Justin Korenblatt followed with a single and after Hedge hit Mark Williams, the Explorers had the bases loaded with no outs.
As quickly as the tides shifted for the freshman lefty, they similarly changed back into he and the Nittany Lions’ favor. In a bizzare play, La Salle first baseman Joey Ravert’s hit went straight off the plate and bounced up in the air. Junior catcher Alex Farkes alertly barehanded the ball while keeping his foot on home plate, and delivered the ball to first for a double play.
“I knew where I was,” Farkas said referring to whether or not he knew he had his foot on the plate. “It happened fast but I wish I had gone to second and had a shot at the triple play.”
The night would end for Hedge after issuing a two-out walk to George Smith Jr. At that time, he was in line for his first career win with Penn State clinging to a 3-1 lead. But after junior reliever Ian Parvin surrendered a two RBI single to pinch hitter Ryan Welling, Hedge was charged with the two additional runs and was no longer the pitcher of record.
The game remained tied at three heading into the bottom half of the eighth inning. Sophomore J.C. Coban opened the inning with a single and Aaron Novak followed with a double to right. Coban took a big turn but was held at third. Farkas then walked to load the bases for J.J. White.
White delivered with a two RBI single scoring Coban and Novak giving the Nittany Lions a 5-3 lead. Penn State tacked on two more insurance runs on a single from Tyler Kendall, who got the spot start at third base.
“I felt good and was seeing the ball well tonight,” White said after a two-hit performance. “That last at-bat, I was just looking for something to hit. I was just trying to do a job and not do too much.”
Parvin went back out for the ninth inning, but after two errors and two walks, head coach Robby Wine was forced to bring in senior Neal Herring to record the last out. Herring was credited with the save because Parvin allowed one in run and the tying run had reached first base.
Despite allowing a run in the ninth, Parvin’s performance helped a Penn State bullpen that has seen growing success over the past five games.
“Just getting innings pitched and getting out there,” Wine said of what has been helping his bullpen lately. “The bullpen is everything. You need to have guys that come in and get guys out in situations.
Penn State jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the third, with RBI singles from Farkas and Elliot Searer.
For the Explorers, Korenblatt had two hits and scored two runs. Third baseman Dan Klem also recorded two hits and had an RBI.
The Nittany Lions will return to Medlar Field tomorrow night as they take on Mount St. Mary’s before heading to Columbus to take on Ohio State in a three-game set this weekend. Tomorrow’s game can once again be heard live on ComRadio. First pitch is set for 6:05 pm.
Matt Lawrence is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism and economics. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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