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Penn State baseball to play for 1st Big Ten Tournament Championship in 24 years

For the first time in a generation, Penn State baseball will play for the Big Ten Tournament crown on Sunday. Will the Nittany Lions be able to keep their epic postseason run going?



Penn State baseball, Big Ten Tournament, Mike Gambino, Michigan
© Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Penn State baseball continued its incredible run through the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday, knocking off No. 4 seed Michigan for the second time in three days to earn a spot in Sunday’s championship game. A back-and-forth affair, the eighth-seeded Nittany Lions used a late rally to force extra innings, followed by a two-run home run from Adam Cecere in the top of 10th to hold on for the 7-6 victory. In his first season in Happy Valley, manager Mike Gambino now has Penn State back in the tournament final for the first time since 2000.

Late long ball propels Penn State baseball past Michigan

Much like Thursday night’s upset over the Wolverines, Penn State baseball used the long ball late to come from behind and take down Michigan in Saturday’s Big Ten Tournament semifinal round. The Nittany Lions struck first, jumping out a 3-0 lead with a three-run fourth inning.

Michigan responded two innings later, tying the ball game in the bottom half of the sixth before taking a 5-3 lead in the seventh. Penn State turned right around in the top of the eighth, leading off the inning with a Joe Jaconski homer to pull within one.

J.T. Marr and Adam Cecere would then get aboard with back-to-back singles, later followed by a Grant Norris single to load the bases with one out. Marr would score on a Bryce Molinaro hit to right field, but Cecere was thrown out at home trying to reclaim the lead then and there.

Trading scoreless frames in the ninth, the game went into extras, where the Nittany Lions’ metal came alive again. After Marr led off the top of the 10th with a single to center field, Cecere worked a full count before sending a chest-high pitch over the right field fence. The two-run shot gave Penn State the 7-5 lead.

Michigan would not go down without a fight, however. After securing two quick outs, Wolverines slugger Mitch Voit hit a solo shot to left field to make it a 7-6 game. But that would be the last gasp for the Maize and Blue, as Penn State baseball would hold on for the win.

After the game, an emotional Adam Cecere spoke to the magnitude of the win.

“I love baseball. I love this game. And I don’t know what I would do without it,” said Cecere to the Big Ten Network Broadcast. “So when I stare at the end of my career, when I come out and potentially play a game that could end my career, you got to post up. You can’t let it happen. And it’s really that simple.”

Mike Gambino going for history in first season in Happy Valley

To say year one for Mike Gambino has been a success is a bit of an understatement.

With Saturday’s win, Penn State baseball will appear in the Big Ten Tournament Championship game for the first time in 24 years on Sunday. If Gambino and the Nittany Lions emerge victorious, it will be the program’s first tournament championship ever. Penn State has won the regular season Big Ten Championship only once, in 1996.

Now 29-23 (12-12 Big Ten), Mike Gambino already has the most wins from a first-year manager in Penn State baseball history. A win on Sunday will earn the Nittany Lions a place in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2000, and only the second time since 1976.

Penn State baseball will take on the winner of Indiana and Nebraska in Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament Championship Game. With storms predicted in Omaha tomorrow, first pitch is tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. EST.

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Matt is a co-owner and Editor in Chief of Basic Blues Nation. Launched in 2022, Basic Blues Nation is one of the fastest-growing websites covering all Penn State athletics, with over 3.5 million readers in 2023. Matt is also a credentialed member of the Penn State football beat, and is a member of the Football Writers Association of America.


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