In its first series of the spring, the Penn State Baseball Club handily swept the JMU Dukes in three games. The Nittany Lions posted 27 runs in 4-3, 13-7, and 10-4 victories.
In his PSBC debut, rookie Matt McDonough got the start in the first game of the series. The Penn State Abington transfer worked through four innings and gave up two runs, neither of which were earned.
The Nittany Lions struck first in the third inning when senior shortstop Tommy Williams led the inning off with a base hit to left. A walk by senior outfielder Tanner Witter put the club in a good position to start the inning, as senior catcher Will Ziefel moved the runners over with a sacrifice bunt. Senior outfielder Ryan Hooven produced the first RBI of the spring season with a hard hit grounder to short, ending in a fielder’s choice, but a run scored by Williams.
After JMU put two runs up in the bottom of the fourth, the club knotted things up in the next half inning, thanks to a lead- off double by rookie infielder Derek Distasio. Distasio moved to third on a passed ball, and scored on a one out single by Witter.
In a shut- down performance, junior Shaemus Lunney came in relief for McDonough in the fifth, and gave up one earned run while fanning seven JMU batters in only three innings. After giving up one in the first inning he threw, Lunney righted the ship and shut the door on the Dukes. The PSBC clawed back again and manufactured two more runs in the top of the sixth, thanks to a string of base hits by senior outfielder Sean Fitzgerald, rookie second baseman Pat Fitzgerald, and an RBI single from Distasio. Lunney earned the win by striking out the last two JMU batters, stranding men on first and second.
Coming off a back and forth battle in game one, the club found its stride and scored the first nine runs of the second game, including a six run third inning. Senior first baseman Josh Castro started the barrage by singling in Hooven, who reached earlier in the inning on an error. Later in the third inning, Williams plated two runs with a rope to center field, and ended up scoring on a two out single by Witter. The club tacked on another three runs in the top of the seventh, with RBIs from junior second baseman Dave Reitman, Hooven, and Castro. Rookie outfielder Greg Copenhaver also picked up his first hit in a PSBC uniform with a single in the third inning.
On the bump, junior hurler Michael Bealmear and senior pitcher Jon Neseth were able to keep the JMU offense at bay. Bealmear got the start and threw for four innings, giving up two earned runs while striking out five. After strong fifth and sixth innings, Neseth surrendered four meaningless runs in the bottom of the seventh, but still battled to close out the ballgame. Bealmear earned the win in the game, clinching a series win for the club.
The Nittany Lions came back to Long Mauck Field on Sunday morning and picked up right where they left off in the last game, breaking the series finale open in the second inning with a five run spot. The club started the inning with the bases loaded after a base hit by Sean Fitzgerald, and junior first baseman Pat Barder and senior catcher Derek Brady both getting hit by pitches. Williams drove in the first run of the game with a one out sac fly, scoring Fitzgerald. With two outs, the club produced four more runs, thanks to RBI singles from Witter and senior third baseman Joe Picard.
The PSBC posted four more runs in the sixth inning with a display of power. Williams started the inning with a double to left, and scored on a single by Witter. On a 2-2 count, Ziefel roped a stand up triple into the left- center gap, driving in Witter. Ziefel scored on a sac fly by Hooven. Later in the inning, Pat Barder found the same gap Ziefel did, and chugged his way to third for a triple that scored Picard.
The Lion’s Pen continued its strong weekend with dominant performances from senior pitchers Matt McCarthy and CJ Stiles, and junior hurler Bryan Chesky. McCarthy went six quick innings while throwing only 78 pitches, allowing two runs, only one of which was earned. Stiles came in in the seventh and struck out three batters in two innings of work. In the bottom of the ninth, Chesky closed the door after working around a couple of errors, allowing two runs, neither of which were earned. Between the three pitchers, only one earned run was given up in the nine inning game. McCarthy earned the win, giving State the sweep, and much needed momentum rolling into a tough weekend against #2 ECU and five games in Florida for spring training.
Game One: FR. Derek Distasio, DH: 2-3, 2B, RBI in PSBC debut
Game Two: SR. Tommy Williams, 3B: 3-4, 2 RBI
Game Three: SR. Matt McCarthy, P: 6 IP, 2 R (1 ER), 5 H
Weekend Warrior: SR. Tanner Witter, OF: 6-10, 4 RBI, 4 R