Gavin Homer once again played a substantial role in a Penn State victory Sunday.
The two-time senior stepped up in important spots for the Nittany Lions in a 5-3 win over Michigan State.
At the plate on Sunday, Homer went 3-for-4 with three singles, two of which scored Penn State runners. The first of his two RBIs came in the bottom of the sixth inning and ended up as the game-winning and series-sweeping run for the Nittany Lions.
Homer also scored two runs and was hit by a pitch. The righty reached base four times in his five plate appearances Sunday.
Coach Rob Cooper said he was happy with the way that Homer was able to battle behind the plate after his strikeout in the second inning and bounce back in the sixth with an RBI.
“After the first at-bat or two where he was kind of struggling to pick the ball up a little bit, you could just see that he was kind of feeling, you know, he was down,” Cooper said. “He's come so far by being able to kind of separate that and be ready for the next pitch. He waved at two pretty good sliders from that guy and then he flushed it with two strikes and shot the ball on the ground and got that go-ahead run across.”
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Penn State didn’t waste any time finding twine Sunday.
Homer leads the Nittany Lions in defensive assists on the year and added a team-leading four more on Sunday. The second baseman also made what Cooper described as an “unbelievable play defensively” on a grounder in the infield to collect one of those assists.
Cooper said that what separates Homer is how much he cares, but he also added that sometimes caring so much can affect him negatively too.
“He cares — like too much. What I mean by that is one of his greatest strengths is that he cares,” Cooper said. “He wants to see his teammates do well and if he doesn't do well, he really takes it hard and feels like he's letting everybody down. And when you have a guy that cares that much, you got to get them to slow stuff down.”
Homer’s multi-hit day brought his batting average up to .350, which is the best on the team and good enough for fifth-best in the entire Big Ten. He also leads Penn State in hits and is tied for first in runs scored with teammates Johnny Piacentino and Justin Williams.
Homer has been plunked by pitchers 12 times at the plate, including once on Sunday and seven times over the past six games. His 12 hit-by-pitches are nine more than any of his teammates and are the fourth-most in the conference.
“Anytime you can coach guys that really care about their teammates and want to win, you want to coach him,” Cooper said in reference to Homer. “He means the world to us.”