Penn State’s second game in its series against Rutgers marked a milestone for the program’s 2021 season — its first series win.
Coach Rob Cooper’s squad beat the Scarlet Knights 5-1 in convincing fashion Saturday to secure its first weekend in which it will walk away with a winning record.
After a pitchers’ duel in Game 1 of the series, the Nittany Lions made sure to buck that trend early in Game 2.
The blue and white jumped all over Rutgers’ Ben Wereski, pushing three runs across via three singles and a double in the first inning. The Nittany Lions tacked on a fourth run in the third on a sacrifice fly from Cole Bartels.
Conor Larkin took the mound for Penn State and made quick work of the Scarlet Knights through four innings, holding them scoreless until Rutgers had its first real threat against Larkin in the fifth inning.
The Nittany Lions’ opposition put a runner on with two hits and a walk before Larkin shut it down with an inning-ending double play.
Penn State scratched another run across in the sixth with some small ball, taking a leadoff double and turning it into a run off of a bunt and a single.
Once Rutgers was able to force Larkin off the mound in the seventh, it swiftly took advantage by putting the first pitch from Jaden Henline far over the left field wall for its first run of the game.
Henline buckled down after the home run and worked three strikeouts in two innings to keep the Scarlet Knights at bay.
Mason Mellott came on in the bottom of the ninth to shut it down. A tough play bobbled by Gavin Homer allowed a runner to get on, but Mellott worked a groundout to end the game.
Here are the biggest storylines from Penn State’s latest win.
After Bailey Dees led Penn State to its first shutout win in Game 1 of the series, Larkin followed suit and worked his first shutout outing of 2021.
Aside from a bases-loaded jam in the fifth, Larkin made quick and easy work of the Scarlet Knight lineup, racking up seven strikeouts in six full innings.
Larkin was locating his fastball and had the breaking pitch working all game, helping him to allow just three hits and two walks.
Larkin continued his solid junior season en route to his first win of the season.
Run production at its finest
The Nittany Lions put together one of their best performances of the season in producing consistent offense.
Cooper’s squad scored five runs on 10 hits, staying reliant on small ball and timely hitting rather than long balls.
Five different players had an RBI, as the blue and white made good use of bunts and singles with runners in scoring position to put together enough runs to secure the series win.
Williams and Harry shine
Most of Penn State’s offensive production came from two names Saturday.
Williams, who had the difference-making home run on Friday, made his mark again by going 3-for-5 with a double and an RBI.
Jay Harry had arguably his best performance as a Nittany Lion after starting at shortstop every day since the season began.
The true freshman went 3-for-4 on the day and helped with the offense’s run production by gathering an RBI and a stolen base.
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