Despite putting up its second-highest run total of the season, Penn State was unable to capture a win against Maryland when it fell 19-10.
Coach Rob Cooper opened his postgame press conference by expressing his pleasure with the Nittany Lions being back at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for the first time since 2019, but he had one clear message: the team wasn’t good enough on Saturday.
“We did some good things obviously, but then we didn’t do enough,” Cooper said. “We didn’t play good enough defense and we didn’t pitch that well at all. We did some decent things offensively, but we struck out way too many times and didn’t play good enough defense in my opinion.”
Cooper’s squad went hitless for the first three innings of the game before exploding for four runs in the fourth. Penn State had another four-run inning in the seventh to tie the game at nine, but could only scrounge up two runs outside of those rallies.
After a series against Indiana in which the blue and white only put up eight runs total through the four-game set, Saturday’s offensive performance would seem to have boded well for the blue and white. However, Cooper didn’t think it was a complete flip of the switch from last weekend.
“I thought [the offense] struggled at times today, too. I thought it was Jekyll and Hyde,” Cooper said. “We got some hits, we scored a lot of runs and came back, but we also struck out 17 times. I think we showed that we can be a good offensive team. We also showed that we were not very offensive today — like really poor. So we’ve gotta find that happy medium.”
Penn State’s season thus far has followed a “Jekyll and Hyde” storyline.
The team captured two wins against Northwestern, totaling 19 runs between the games. The other two games were losses in which the Nittany Lions amassed two runs total.
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For the first time this season, Penn State picked up a series victory away from home.
Against Indiana, the team dropped both games of a doubleheader in back-to-back days. The first day saw two total runs and the second six runs.
Despite the inconsistency, Cooper said he thinks his team is on the edge of a breakthrough.
“I think this team is extremely close to being good,” Cooper said. “They have to believe they’re good and be willing to relax and just be baseball players.
Cooper also said he saw a good mentality from the team, but that there’s more that needs to be done.
“They showed fight. They showed that they want to do well and that they care,” Cooper said. “We battled back into it. We have the ability. But if you can’t slow the game down and if you can't make adjustments as you go throughout the game, you're going to struggle.”
A pair of individual offensive performances stood out to Cooper, though, that are pushing the Nittany Lions in the right direction — Matt Wood and Cole Bartels.
“ Wood swung the bat well,” Cooper said. “When he’s not trying to do too much and he’s just himself, he’s really good. Cole Bartels swung the bat the way we know he can swing it today. We just gotta have guys be themselves.”
Moving forward, Cooper wants the team to grow from Saturday, but not dwell on the loss.
“Get some sleep tonight, eat well, hydrate. Come ready tomorrow with good energy,” Cooper said. “When we show up tomorrow, this game is over. There’s nothing you can do about it. Even if we had won, you can’t bring it with you. They just gotta come and get better and learn from it.”
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