March 29, 2014
Penn State 10, Northwestern 6|
Medlar Field at Lubrano Park University Park, Pa.
Box Score | Box Score
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Northwestern outhit Penn State Saturday morning, but it left nine men on base and dropped its second straight Big Ten game to the Nittany Lions, 10-6.
Northwestern collected 12 hits in the ballgame, marking the 12th time this season and the second time in the series that the 'Cats eclipsed the double-digit hit plateau. Penn State was limited to nine hits, but drew seven walks and got the aid of two NU errors to tie its season high with 10 runs Saturday.
For the second time in the series, and the 10th time this season, the Wildcats scored right away in the top of the first inning. Zach Jones started things off with a base the other way to right field. Two batters later, Reid Hunter hit a sharp single to second base with two outs, but Taylor Skerpon's throw was wide of the bag and Jones scored the first run of the day. Joe Hoscheit reached on catcher's interference and Matt Hopfner reached safely when Hoscheit beat a throw to second that also would have ended the inning. NU's second baseman, Jake Straub, then lined a single to left field that brought two more runs home for the 'Cats. Cody Stevens legged out an infield single to load the bases, but Penn State's Greg Welsh was able to notch his second strikeout of the morning to escape further damage.
Penn State's offense picked up its defense right away and scored twice in the home half of the first. Northwestern's Reed Mason walked the first two Nittany Lion hitters and both Steve Snyder and Skerpon scored later in the inning. Mason settled down and stranded runners at the corners with his first strikeout of the day and a fly ball to Jake Schieber in center field. After one inning of play, Northwestern maintained a 3-2 lead.
The Nittany Lions grabbed their first lead in the bottom of the second inning with the help of two hits, a walk, a wild pitch and a second Northwestern error. Zach Ell scored the tying run on a wild pitch from Mason before a single to center and a sacrifice fly to left field gave the home team a 5-3 lead after only two innings.
Chicago's Big Ten Team responded with a single tally in the top of the third. Hoscheit started the inning with a double to right-center field and he moved to third on an infield single by Hopfner. Straub then tied a career high with his third RBI in just his second at-bat to pull NU within a run. The Nittany Lions went to the bullpen and Dakota Forsyth was able to keep the 'Cats at bay and pre serve a one-run lead.
Matt Portland relieved Mason in the bottom of the third, while Heelan went from behind the dish to second base and Straub slid into the catcher's spot. Naturally the Nittany Lions hit three grounders to Heelan, who was playing in that infield spot for the first time in his collegiate career. The redshirt junior even made a nice diving play to his left to record one of the three quick putouts.
Northwestern got the lead back with another multi-run inning in the top of the fifth. Hoscheit reached base safely for the third time in the game with a single to left field and Hopfner chopped a double down the left field line to start the stanza. Straub then drove in his career-high fourth run of the ballgame with a sacrifice fly to right-centerfield. After Stevens singled, pinch hitter Antonio Freschet executed a safety squeeze that scored Hopfner and gave the Wildcats a 6-5 edge.
Once again, Penn State posted a quick counter. Alex Farkes drove in two run on base hit through the left side before Snyder plated PSU's backstop with a base hit to right field. After five innings, the home team had the edge in the back-and-forth affair, 8-6. The Nittany Lions added two more runs on back-to-back singles to center field to blossom their lead to four runs, the largest of the day for either side to that point.
Forsyth cruised through the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. The right-hander retired eight Wildcats in a row before Walker Moses coaxed a two-out walk. NU's left fielder advanced to second base on a wild pitch, but he was stranded there when the top of the eighth ended on a ground ball to first base. Evanston, Ill., native Jack Anderson came out of the bullpen in the top of the ninth and got the final three outs for the Nittany Lions.
The three-game series is scheduled to conclude on Sunday afternoon at noon CT. NU returns home on Wednesday, April 2 to play Western Michigan and begin a season-long nine-game homestand at Rocky Miller Park
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