After opening the season with a well-rounded victory against East Tennessee State on Friday, Penn State’s fortunes turned with the weather. Facing poor conditions on Saturday and Sunday, the Lions dropped two straight, ultimately losing the series to the Bucs on Sunday, 9-7.
“The Friday night game I couldn’t be more happy,” coach Robbie Wine said. “Guys competed, guys executed, made plays, we only had four strikeouts, no errors, our pitchers made plays, we moved runners. Saturday it was the total opposite and it was the same today. Weather was not good either day but both teams played in it.”
The Bucs jumped out Sunday when junior Clinton Freeman drove in two runs with a homer in the bottom of the first off of sophomore Patton Taylor.
The Lions got it going in the top of the third when redshirt junior Steve Snyder lined a double to right field. He was driven in next at-bat by freshman James Coates. The outfielder stole second and scored when junior Luis Montesinos singled to left field to tie the game at 2-2.
After three straight scoreless innings, the Bucs got to Patton Taylor in the bottom of the fifth. The Bucs’ Jeremy Taylor reached based on an error by Montesinos.
When freshman Kevin Phillips reached base on a single, the sophomore began to lose his control, hitting the next batter. With the bases loaded, Mason Hershey grounded out, driving in a run. A walk and then a double led to two more runs. Taylor was pulled for sophomore Ryan Harper, but not soon enough to stop the bleeding.
A sac fly, another double, a wild pitch and yet another error allowed the Bucs to post seven runs in the frame and take a commanding 9-2 lead. Wine attributed several factors to the rough inning.
“Errors and poor pitches, just not making our pitches when we needed to and not coming up with a double play or a stop of the ball,” Wine said. “Every game has moments where you either win or you lose. Seven runs in an inning, you have to minimize that… It just kind of snowballed and got out of control.”
The Lions began to fight back with when freshman Tyler Kendall scored on a sac fly in the seventh. The scoring continued with two runs in the eighth on a base hit and a fielder’s choice.
In the ninth, Montesinos reached base on a single with two outs and advanced to second on an error. A two-run homer by sophomore J.C. Coban brought the Lions within two, but sophomore Aaron Novak lined out to end the game.
Wine looks at the disappointing weekend as a learning experience for his team.
“Those days were pretty tough out there,” Wine said of Saturday and Sunday. “Especially with being on the road and first time experiencing that for a lot of these guys, so we need to keep working at it, working to get better.”