The last time Penn State baseball played Pitt at PNC Park, it was a good night for Nittany Nation.
Penn State entered the top of the ninth down 6-5… and ended up winning 19-6.
A 14-run top of the ninth is something to remember, and it will be hard for Penn State to replicate that this season.
But a win over Pitt is extra sweet for any Penn State sports team, and baseball is no exception. Here are five things to know ahead of Tuesday’s game.
Penn State’s best player from last season, Matt Wood, is no longer with the program, and instead is in the Milwaukee Brewers’ organization. But Penn State still has some solid talent from western PA.
Penn Trafford’s Josh Spiegel— whose three-run homer ignited that ninth-inning rally last season at PNC— has played in 38 of Penn State’s 46 games.
He’s hitting .279 with three home runs and 23 RBI, slugging .491 with a .401 on-base percentage.
Steven Miller (North Hills) and Ryan Partridge (North Allegheny) are both used out of the bullpen.
We’ll see what type of impact these those three make in Pittsburgh’s most famous ballpark.
BACK HOME (SORT OF)
Penn State isn’t playing a home game Tuesday, but the team is much closer to it’s University Park compound than it was when it played in Nebraska this past weekend.
They say “there’s no place like Nebraska,” and for Penn State, that’s probably a good thing.
Penn State played three games in Lincoln over the weekend, and lost all three by a combined 32-12.
The team doesn’t play in Happy Valley until Thursday, when it hosts Maryland for the first of a three game set. But in the meantime, Pittsburgh will be a reasonable buffer between Lincoln and State College.
Pitt comes into Tuesday’s game with a 22-27 overall record and a 10-15 ACC mark. The team’s coming off a series with No. 11 Miami in which it took one of three games. Kyle Hess has impressed for Pitt this season, leading the team with a .325 batting average and .609 slugging percentage. Hess is also fourth on the team in hits (49) third in RBI (38) and leads the team ACC with six triples (nobody other Pitt player has more than one).
Penn State and Pitt played in Happy Valley in late March. Penn State won, 16-8, with Billy Gerlott, Grant Norris and Tayven Kelly each driving in three runs. Hess went 2-for-4 with an RBI and two walks.
Pitt is a non-conference opponent, so this game will have no impact on Penn State’s Big Ten Tournament hopes even if they existed.
Unfortunately for Penn State, the team is out of the Big Ten Tournament picture. Eight teams make it to the tournament, and Penn State’s 3.5 games back of eighth-place Purdue with each team having three conference games left. The silver lining to this is that Penn State has no pressure on it the rest of the way, and can focus solely on ending the year strong.
HOW TO FOLLOW
First pitch is scheduled for 6 and will be broadcast on ACCX. Here’s more information.
Radio: “Bigfoot Legends” (1450 AM/103.7 FM)/LionVision
Radio announcer: Brian Tripp