There wasn’t too much good that came out of Penn State baseball’s 11-3 loss to Pitt at PNC Park Tuesday night.
The scoreline speaks for itself, and to make matters worse for Penn State, the team has lost nine straight and hasn’t won a game in May.
One positive, however, was that Penn State’s Ryan Partridge, who has been with the program for nearly four full seasons, made his first college start in his hometown MLB ballpark.
Partridge is a western Pennsylvania guy. He played high school baseball at North Allegheny, which is in Wexford, Pennsylvania, near Pittsburgh, and he said he’s probably been to “hundreds of games” at PNC Park.
Some of his favorite memories were when Andrew McCutchen hit a walk-off homer against the Cardinals in July 2015, and Sean Rodriguez did the same against the Padres more than four years later.
But the memory Partridge made Tuesday night topped them all because, this time, he was the one on the field.
“It was awesome,” Partridge said. “It’s the stuff you dream about. I mean, as a young kid, you always want to pitch in a big league ballpark.”
Partridge pitched four innings, giving up four earned runs on three hits, walking two and striking out two. The four runs came in on a pair of homers– a three-run jack by Pitt’s Noah Martinez and a solo homer by CJ Funk.
Coach Rob Cooper thought Partridge handled the situation well.
“(Getting the start) really didn’t come down to it being his hometown,” Cooper said. “I mean, I think that’s cool that a guy that grew up coming to games here got to pitch on that mound. That’s really awesome, and I thought he gave us a quality start.”
Partridge had made 44 appearances in his Penn State career, all coming from the bullpen. Off the field, he describes himself as a fun-loving guy, and teammate Josh Spiegel, another Pittsburgh guy (Penn Trafford), backed up that description.
“Great teammate to have,” Spiegel said, “definitely a lot of fun to be around, definitely made a lot of memories with him.”
Partridge has experienced plenty of ups and downs at Penn State. Most of his first season didn’t happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic taking over the world, which was undoubtedly a low. There were also high points, such as helping Penn State to its first Big Ten Tournament appearance in a decade last season. Through the good and bad, Partridge has been a constant.
He still has the option to play another season at Penn State and said he hasn’t yet decided. But if he doesn’t return, his coaches and teammates feel he’s made his mark on the program.
“He’s meant a lot,” Spiegel said. “When he first came in here, there was a lot of struggles. I think, the past couple years, we’ve been getting better, so I guess he’s meant a lot to the program. He’s been there through bad and good.”
“Ryan’s a really good kid,” Cooper said, “and he’s worked hard, and he’s made a positive impact in our program, and I have no doubt that he’s going to be extremely successful as he moves on in life.”
Overall, Partridge knew he was doing something unique Tuesday.
“Probably one of the coolest things I’ve ever done in my life,” he said.