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Penn State Baseball: Starting Slow, but Bouncing Back

The Nittany Lions are slowly rounding into form to start 2023.



Penn State Baseball
A baseball sits in the grass between pitches during the Gateway Conference baseball championship between Sandalwood and Fletcher on April 22, 2022. [Clayton Freeman/Florida Times-Union] 042222 Gatewaybaseball Stock

It may not be officially spring, but it’s officially Penn State baseball season here at Basic Blues Nation.

The 2023 season started Friday, March 17th, in Coral Gables, Florida, against the 22nd-ranked Hurricanes of the University of Miami.  Hope was riding high for the Lions, who made the Big Ten Tournament last year and even recorded a win against a superior Iowa squad before dropping a game against Rutgers and taking another loss against Iowa the day after, eliminating them from the tournament.

Up to now, the Lions have attained a 4-2 record, even recording an impressive upset win to start the season at Miami (more about that soon). Other than that, the rest of the games up to this point have been representative of a slow start and a slow bounce back for coach Rob Cooper’s squad.  

Strong Season Opener: Penn State 9, No. 22 Miami 5

The season opener started hot for Penn State baseball. With the bases loaded in the top of the second inning, junior shortstop Jay Harry(who tied a Big Ten record with six hits in a game against Michigan State last year) hit a double, which scored all three baserunners and brought him to scoring position. He would then be batted in by grad transfer and designated hitter Thomas Branley(Mount St. Mary’s) to put the Nittany Lions up 4-0.

No action would occur again until the top of the 3rd inning, where junior second baseman Kyle Hannon hit a solo home run. The first home run for the Nittany Lions as a team to increase the lead to 5-0 PSU. Miami would get on the board in the bottom half of the inning, where shortstop Dominic Pitelli hit a solo home run to make the score 5-1 PSU.

The next score would occur in the fifth inning, where Penn State senior left fielder Tayven Kelly would hit yet another solo home run for Penn State to make it 6-1. Miami right fielder Zach Levenson hit a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh inning to add another run for Miami and make it 6-2 Nittany Lions.  

The eighth inning saw the Lions adding three runs, with Hannon (who homered in the third inning) reaching on a fielder’s choice, advancing to second base on the throw, and eventually scoring. Right fielder Billy Gerlott advanced to second base from a throwing error by the Miami pitcher, eventually advancing to third base. Bramley, who was already on base, advanced to third base on the same throw and scored to put up the Lions 7-2.  

Senior Johnny Piacentino then singled, scoring Gerlott and bringing Hannon to third base (8-2 PSU). A passed ball by the Miami catcher proceeded to score Hannon and bring Piancentino to second base, making it 9-2 Penn State.  

In the Miami half of the same inning, Hurricanes third baseman Yohandy Morales doubled, scoring first baseman CJ Kayfus.  Designated hitter Ian Farrow then hit a two-run home run, bringing the eventual final score to 9-5.     

Starter Travis Luensmann had four strikeouts in five innings while giving up one earned run, and reliever Jordan Morales gave up four earned runs. The pitching staff combined for nine strikeouts.

Game 2: No. 22 Miami 10, Penn State 2

In what was a significant breakdown of the Penn State pitching staff and a bright spot for the Hurricanes pitching staff, the Nittany Lions picked up their first loss of the season.  Left fielder for Miami Edgardo Villegas was the catalyst for the early start for Miami, contributing a home run, double, and score to put Miami up 5-0.  There was also a Miami home run in the fifth inning that put Penn State six runs down.  However, Kyle Hannon singled in the seventh inning and scored DH Josh Spiegel to put Penn State on the Board, 6-1.  Another home run (this time of the two-run variety) from Miami followed in the bottom half of the inning, increasing their lead to 8-1.  Jay Harry of Penn State would then single in the eighth inning, scoring pinch hitter Bobby Marsh and contributing to the last PSU run of the game.

The final score ended up being 10-2 Miami, with starter Daniel Oudekirk taking the loss (and giving up three unearned runs along with four total runs) and the bullpen giving up six earned runs.

Game 3: No. 22 Miami 3, Penn State 2

This game was a heartbreaker for the Nittany Lions, who would lose on a walk-off home run.

DH Thomas Branley scored on a wild pitch to put the Lions up 1-0.  A single from Tayven Kelley scored Piancentino to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.  

Miami would then start scoring.  Ian Farrow scored on an unearned opportunity, getting the Hurricanes on the board, 2-1.  Not much would occur for them again until the bottom of the ninth inning, where first baseman CJ Kayfus hit a walk-off two-run homer off of Penn State reliever Steven Miller, handing both him and Penn State the loss in heartbreaking fashion.  This loss also brought the Lions under .500, to 1-2 for the season.

Game 4:  Penn State 7, NIU 3

Penn State baseball went back into the win column with this game, traveling to the Team USA ballpark for the weekend in Cary, North Carolina.

In the first inning, Penn State got on the board with a groundout from Billy Gerlott that scored Thomas Bramley.

Then with hits in the second inning from Bramley (single) scoring third baseman Grant Norris and a double from Billy Gerlott scoring Bramley and Harry, PSU went up 4-0.  

NIU scored a run in the top of the fourth inning from an RBI single, making the score 4-1.  Penn State scored once again in the bottom half of this inning from Kyle Hannon reaching on a throwing error from the NIU shortstop, allowing Bramley and Harry to score.  

PSU continued tacking on runs in the seventh inning, with first baseman Anthony Steele singling, allowing Billy Gerlott to score.  A foul out from Grant Norris allowed Piacentino to score, making the score 7-1 PSU.

NIU scored two more runs to get the final score to 7-3 PSU.

Starter Travis Luensmann once again had a great start, this time only allowing one earned run and picking up the win.  Penn State also broke even with their record, becoming 2-2 with this win.

Game 5:  Penn State 5, NIU 1

Penn State once again won in the second game of their doubleheader against NIU.

NIU got on the board first with an RBI single, getting the score to 1-0 NIU.

Penn State would not score until the fifth inning, when Thomas Bramley singled, scoring Anthony Steele.

Kyle Hannon singled in the sixth inning, scoring Johnny Piacentino.  Grant Norris then singled, scoring Hannon.

In the eighth inning, Norris hit a two-run home run, scoring Kyle Hannon and getting the final score to 5-1 PSU.

Starter Daniel Ouderkirk bounced back from his previous start, posting an impressive eleven strikeouts, allowing a single unearned run, and picking up the win.  

A game was scheduled for 4 p.m. on Saturday, February 25th, against Maine and was subsequently canceled due to rain.

Game 6: Penn State 11, Monmouth 3

Penn State picked up their third straight win in a dominant outing against Monmouth Sunday morning.  

However, the game did not start off in favor of the Nittany Lions.  Monmouth would strike first in the second inning, scoring from an RBI double and a wild pitch to make the score 2-0 Monmouth.

Penn State’s scoring would start in the bottom half of the second inning, where outfielder Tayven Kelley hit an RBI single to score Kyle Hannon and put Penn State on the board, 2-1 Monmouth.

Most of the Lions’ scoring came in the third inning, where a single to start things off from Billy Gerlott scored Jay Harry and tied the ballgame, 2-2.  Tayven Kelley then, with the bases loaded as a result of the previous at-bats, was able to walk in Josh Spiegel for another Penn State run, giving them the lead in the process with a score of 3-2 Nittany Lions.  Grant Norris then hit a single to score two of the baserunners, which put Penn State up 5-2.  

Anthony Steele would then proceed to bat a bases-clearing single to center field, scoring Norris and Kelley.  Most impressive after this was probably shortstop Jay Harry’s triple, which came off of a full count and scored Steele to make the score 8-2 Lions.  

Monmouth would then add a run via a home run to make it 8-3.

Anthony Steele singled in the fifth inning to score Kelley and tack on yet another run for PSU.  Thomas Branley hit the first home run for PSU in the sixth inning, making the score 10-3.  Steele would finally double to right field in the seventh, scoring Norris and giving Penn State the win with a final score of 11-3.

Junior pitcher Jaden Henline, who came in in the third inning to replace sophomore Tommy Molsky, picked up his first win of the season after pitching six innings and only allowing a single unearned run.

What’s Upcoming for Penn State Baseball?

The Nittany Lions stay in Cary and play Wagner next on March 4th at 11 a.m. Eastern Time.  

Make sure to stay locked into Basic Blues Nation for coverage of Penn State baseball throughout the whole season.

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Currently a Penn State student majoring in Data Sciences, Surya is a passionate New York sports fan. He covers Penn State baseball, softball, and more.


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