Baseball PSU vs. Michigan State, Cole Bartels (3)

Infielder Cole Bartels (3) up at bat during Penn State baseball's game against Michigan State on Saturday, May 1, 2021 at Medlar Field in University Park, Pa. The Nittany Lions beat the Spartans 27-4.

With a win Thursday night, Penn State would’ve clinched its first Big Ten Tournament appearance since 2012.

Illinois didn't make things easy for the home team, though, downing the Nittany Lions 18-7.

With two outs in the first inning, Fighting Illini catcher Jason Campbell lined a double to the gap, allowing infielder Justin Janas to leg it out from first base and put his team up 1-0 early.

The visitors continued their hot start, putting up six runs in the second inning before adding another four in the next frame.

After two four innings, two early outs in the fifth didn't discourage the Nittany Lions, who rattled off five runs. The blue and white took advantage of four walks allowed by Illinois pitcher Cole Kirschsieper to put runners in scoring position.

Utility player Cole Bartels drove in one run with a single, followed by outfielder Johnny Piacentino driving in two with a single of his own. Outfielder Billy Gerlott sent a double to left field and plated two more scores to make it 11-5.

Penn State chipped further into the lead in the next inning, with Bartels and catcher Matt Wood plating a run each to make it 11-7.

In the bottom of the seventh, Illinois responded to Penn State’s comeback attempt with scores of its own. Third baseman Branden Comia smashed an RBI double to plate one run, before a sac fly and a groundout pushed the lead to 14-7.

The Illini added four more runs in the ninth for good measure, taking down the Nittany Lions in Game 1 of the series.

Baseball vs. Bucknell, Partridge

Pitcher Ryan Partridge (31) enters from the bullpen during Penn State's game against Bucknell at Medlar Field in University Park, Pa. on Tuesday, Apr. 26, 2022. The Bison defeated the Nittany Lions 8-7.

Henline’s forgettable outing

In his seventh start of the season, Jaden Henline had a difficult time stifling Illinois’ fierce offense.

Things started well for the sophomore, who gathered two fast outs, but his night quickly fell apart.

The Illini hit for the cycle against Henline, including a three-run homer that blew the game open in the second inning.

He gathered just five outs before being pulled for freshman Chase Renner, throwing 51 pitches while allowing eight hits and two walks.

By the time Henline was pulled, the rout was already on, with Illinois leading 7-0.

Offense comes alive

It was an unremarkable start for the Penn State offense, but after the fourth inning, everything came together at the plate.

The Nittany Lions played some small ball, capitalizing on singles and walks to set up scoring plays.

The bottom half of the order enjoyed an efficient night, generating three singles and three walks and putting runners aboard for the team’s top hitters.

Bartels stood out with a 4-for-5 day, including two RBIs and a double. With Wood and No. 3 hitter Josh Spiegel combining for just two hits, Penn State needed Bartels to step up and he did just that.

Piacentino and Gerlott also produced for the blue and white Thursday, driving in two RBIs apiece.

Partridge slows things down

Lackluster performances from Henline and Renner spotted Illinois an 11-0 lead before Ryan Partridge entered and settled things down for Penn State.

Partridge saw the most action of any blue and white pitcher, lasting three and one-thirds innings. In that span, the junior gave up just three hits but also allowed three walks.

The Wexford, Pennsylvania native gave away one score, on a run charged to him after he was pulled, but overall had one of the better performances of his career.

With Partridge dealing from the mound, the Nittany Lion offense found a rhythm, rallying to within four runs of a tie game.

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