Baseball PSU vs. Michigan Josh Siegel (41) and Bailey Dees (44)

Catcher Josh Spiegel (41) discussing with Pitcher Bailey Dees (44) during Penn State's first game in their series against Michigan on Friday, March 26, 2021 at Medlar Field in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions beat the Wolverines 3-2.

Penn State welcomed Big Ten-leading Nebraska to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday night in a matchup of ace pitchers.

Nittany Lions right-hander Bailey Dees manned the bump and was brilliant in six innings of work, allowing just one run against statistically one of the most potent offenses in the conference.

With Penn State leading 2-1, Dees left the contest and turned things over to the team’s relievers. However, the Nittany Lions’ bullpen struggled mightily and the possible upset soon turned into a blowout, eventually resulting in a lopsided 8-2 loss to the Cornhuskers.

After another stellar performance by one of the team’s starting pitchers, coach Rob Cooper would like to see more from his end-of-the-game crew.

“[We] got to learn how to finish it off,” Cooper said. “We got to pitch better out of the bullpen.”

Five relievers combined to throw the final three frames for Penn State, allowing seven runs on as many hits. The Nittany Lions’ defense committed two costly errors late in the game, causing four of the runs to be registered as unearned.

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Walks were also very damaging, as Penn State relinquished six walks in the final three innings. Nebraska scored three runs by drawing three bases-loaded walks in the seventh and eighth frames. 

“It wasn’t good enough,” Cooper said. “We weren’t good enough." 

Unable to hold the slim lead provided by Dees, the bullpen was credited with the loss, meaning Dees earned a no-decision. The outing was the junior’s second of the season in which he allowed one or fewer earned runs.

“He was super competitive [and he] went after guys,” Cooper said about Dees. “That, to me, is the best outing that he’s had as a Penn State Nittany Lion.” 

The Penn State bullpen has now been tabbed with six of the blue and white’s 14 losses during the 2021 campaign, three of which have come at home. Eight of the 13 Nittany Lions that have pitched in relief this season have an ERA over 5.25.

Penn State has allowed six or more runs in four of its last six contests, and eight runs in each of its last two games. The Nittany Lions are 2-4 during that stretch. 

“They’re pissed, they want to win,” Cooper said. “But… they’re not gonna quit.”

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