Iowa Puts Penn State Baseball Playoff Hopes on Life Support

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Three unearned runs in the second proved to be enough for Iowa, as the Hawkeyes held on to defeat Penn State, 3-2, in Big Ten baseball action Thursday evening at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

(Photo courtesy of Penn State Athletics)

Penn State (27-26, 11-11 Big Ten) must now sweep a doubleheader against Iowa (26-24, 11-11 Big Ten) set for Friday at 2 p.m. to advance to the Big Ten tournament. After Maryland (12-10) won and Illinois (10-12) lost Thursday, Iowa and Penn State are presently tied for the eighth and final tournament berth. The Maryland victory eliminates the possibility of Penn State advancing with a 12-12 record.

LHP Nick Hedge (5-3) (Winnetka, Ill.) threw 6 2/3 innings for the Nittany Lions, allowing the three unearned runs on six hits and two walks with five strikeouts to match his season-high. Aside from the second inning he was largely dominant, and RHP Jack Anderson (Evanston, Ill.) was perfect in relief over the final 2 1/3.

Iowa scored the runs in the second after a one-out error. Hedge surrendered a single and then back-to-back walks to bring in the first run. A fielder’s choice hit into by second baseman Zach Daniels and an RBI-single by first baseman Tyler Peyton plated the next two runs, respectively.

The Nittany Lions got on the scoreboard in the fourth on a groundout by centerfielder James Coates (Girard, Ohio). Left fielder Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) and designated hitter Tyler Kendall (Boynton Beach, Fla.) both singled to lead-off the inning and were sacrificed into scoring position by first baseman Willie Burger (Lancaster, Pa.)

The senior tandem of Guers and Kendall accounted for five of Penn State’s eight hits. Guers singled in his first two at-bats for a six at-bat hit streak after going 4-for-4 at Nebraska Sunday. Kendall went 3-for-4 with an RBI for his fourth multi-hit game in his last five games.

Kendall drove in a run in the eighth inning with a single to center after an error allowed a runner in scoring position. However, Daniels (5) took the mound for the final 1 1/3 innings and was perfect to earn the save.

The Hawkeyes were also stellar defensively in the outfield. Robert Neustrom made a diving catch in right field on a well-hit ball by Kendall to prevent a first inning run, and Joel Booker tracked down a deep fly to the left gap to prevent another run from scoring in the fourth.

Due to expected inclement weather Saturday, the series will conclude with a doubleheader Friday starting at 2 p.m. Senior Day celebrations will take place following Friday night’s final game. It will be Bark in the Park day, so fans bringing their dog to the game with proof of up-to-date vaccinations can get in for $1. Game 2 Friday will start approximately 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.

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