Early-inning offense was the key to victory Friday in Penn State and Michigan State’s doubleheader.
The Nittany Lions and Spartans traded leads in the first inning and held on the rest of the way, ultimately resulting in a split twin bill. Michigan State jumped out to an early lead and took game one 7-4, while Penn State got off to a hot start and won the second leg of the double dip 7-3 in East Lansing, Michigan.
In the first contest, the blue and white fell behind early and was never able to recover. Michigan State scored three runs in the first two innings, one of which came on a solo home run from Zach Iverson.
Penn State responded with a solo home run from right fielder Curtis Robison in the third inning. However, the Nittany Lions’ offense was quiet in the beginning of the game.
Michigan State scratched across three runs in the sixth before a roughly hour-long rain delay paused the contest.
After the Spartans tacked on an insurance run in the eighth to make it 7-2, Penn State used its final at-bats in the ninth to attempt a comeback. The Nittany Lions strung several hits together and narrowed the score to 7-4 thanks to RBIs from Josh Spiegel and Robison.
However, Penn State’s comeback fell short, as the Nittany Lions left the bases loaded and ultimately lost 7-4.
Penn State carried its ninth-inning scoring outburst into the next matchup, as it jumped out a big 4-0 lead in the first inning. After a single and a walk, third baseman Justin Williams hit a two RBI double to get the Nittany Lions on the board.
Catcher Matt Wood then followed with a two-run homer to extend Penn State’s lead. While the blue and white added an insurance run in the third, the lead would prove to be enough for the win.
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With one match left in its regular season, Penn State has already secured a seat atop the EIVA.
Michigan State scratched across two runs in the first frame and one in the fifth, but it wasn’t enough to stage a comeback. Penn State pitchers allowed the Spartans to record just four hits in the game.
Larkin excels on the mound
Conor Larkin took the ball in the second leg of the twin bill and pitched well, tossing 5.2 innings and earning the victory. The right-hander allowed just four hits and three earned runs while fanning four Spartans.
The junior has allowed three or fewer runs in five of his six starts this season. Larkin leads the Nittany Lions in strikeouts and has not allowed more than two walks in any start this season.
Right fielder Curtis Robison brought power to the lineup in both contests on Friday. The junior blasted a solo home run and a double in the first matchup, along with an RBI single.
Robison added another double to his stat line in the second half of the doubleheader, along with an RBI on a fielder’s choice.
He finished the day 4-for-8 with three RBIs and two runs.
Shingledecker shuts down the Spartans
Southpaw Tyler Shingledecker entered the game in relief of Larkin and preserved the Nittany Lions’ lead. The sophomore was impeccable in 3.1 innings of work, allowing no runs, hits or walks.
Shingledecker struck out four batters in what was his second-longest relief outing of the season. The outing also marks his second shutout in his last three appearances.
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