Junior Dave Walkling hadn’t slept in 36 hours.
But as he trotted up to the mound at the top of the 8th inning to a remix of the Canadian national anthem, he was wide awake.
He proceeded to strike out five of the seven batters he faced, allowing just one hit.
The Penn State baseball team beat Kent State, 6-4, at Medlar Field on Wednesday. The bullpen tossed 6.2 innings of 1-run ball as junior starting pitcher Cody Lewis was pulled after 63 pitches. Coach Robbie Wine had Lewis on a 60-pitch limit, so the bullpen knew it was going to be working before the game even started.
Tim Dunn got the win after initially relieving Lewis. He had a huge fifth inning after allowing a one-out triple to third baseman Sawyer Polen. The play at third was bang-bang, and Dunn had thought for sure Polen was out.
Dunn returned to the mound and refused to let the play rattle him. He forced the next batter to fly out and following batter to strike out.
“The one ball Luis [Montesinos] threw to third, I though [Polen] was dead,” senior outfielder Sean Deegan said. “For Tim to come back and get two outs right away, I thought that was a huge turning point in the game.”
In all, Penn State was outhit 19-9 Wednesday, but the bullpen stranded 15 Kent State runners on base.
“It’s huge,” Dunn said. “Leaving runners on base helped us win this game.”
The Nittany Lions’ lineup was hitting as clutch as the bullpen was pitching Wednesday. With two outs and a full count, designated hitter JJ White walked to lay the seeds of a 4-run rally. Deegan later tripled with the bases load to drive in three.
Walkling said the bullpen is thankful the hitters are able to supply as many runs as they do. It takes the pressure off of them as pitchers. Even if they don’t have their best stuff during a given game, at least they have a little breathing room.
He earned his first save as a Penn State pitcher Wednesday in his two-out effort. Kent State struggled to make contact with his out pitch — the slider.
“I came in and had my pitches working,” Walkling said. “I just threw my slider over and over and they were swinging through it.”