Penn State Baseball Extends Winning Streak to Eight

EASTON, Pa. – Penn State extended its winning streak to eight by prevailing in a slugfest with Lafayette, 20-12, in non-conference baseball action on a windy Wednesday afternoon in Kamine Stadium. RHP Jack Anderson capped the game by making his Penn State record 86th career pitching appearance.

Winners in 12 out of its last 14, the eight-game winning streak is Penn State’s (17-12) longest since the 2000 NCAA Super Regional team strung eight victories in a row. The win over Lafayette (9-17) was also Penn State’s ninth consecutive over an in-state opponent.

Strong winds blowing out led to a combined 32 runs, 30 hits and four home runs. Penn State led by as much as 16-2 after the top of the fourth inning, sending 13 batters to the plate in the third for nine runs. Its 20 runs were the most it scored since scoring 22 against Michigan State in 2010.

Right fielder Nick Riotto (Washington, Pa.) led the Nittany Lions going 3-for-5 with a home run, double, four RBIs and three runs. Third baseman Jim Haley (Upper Darby, Pa.) also went 3-for-5 and added three RBIs and two runs, and freshman catcher Ryan Sloniger (Punxsutawney, Pa.) matched Riotto’s four RBIs. Designated hitter Greg Guers doubled twice and drove in a run and freshman second baseman Connor Klemann drove in two runs to lead four Lions with two hit games.

RHP Nick Distasio (2-0) earned the win in relief, striking out a career-high seven in 4 2/3 innings of work. He allowed four runs on five hits and two walks. Anderson pitched with a nine-run cushion in the ninth, yielding an unearned run on a hit and walk. He extended his streak of not allowing an earned run in his last 10 appearances and broke the career appearances record of 85 previously held by David Lutz (2007-10).

Right fielder Alex Nickels led the Leopards with a grand slam and a three-run home run after entering the game in the top of the fourth inning.

Penn State scored the game’s first 13 runs. Riotto doubled and Haley drove him in with a base hit for the first run in the first inning, and then the Lions added three runs in the second on an RBI-single by Sloniger, a sacrifice fly by Hughes and an RBI-single by Riotto.

Freshman left fielder Keith Leavitt (Manchester, Mass.) ignited a nine-run third inning, driving in a run in a 2-2 count and two outs to prolong it. The next seven batters would reach and add eight more runs. Sloniger highlighted the frame with a bases-clearing double. Haley drove in two more with a base hit, and a balk, an RBI-double by Guers and an RBI-single by first baseman Tyler Kendall (Boynton Beach, Fla.) would push the remaining runs across.

Lafayette got on the scoreboard in the bottom half of the frame on a two-RBI single by first baseman Campbell Lipe, but Riotto extended the Penn State lead to 16-2 in the top of the fourth with a two-out, three-run home run.

The Leopards began to scratch their way back into the game in the bottom of the fourth though with a six-run inning powered by a grand slam by Nickels and a solo home run by Alex Woinski. Nickels added a three-run home run the very next inning to make it a 16-11 game.

RHP Connor Jones would pitch three perfect innings for Lafayette, working the fifth, sixth and seventh innings to slow the Penn State offense, but Distasio did not yield any more runs either. After Jones left the game, Penn State added a run in the eighth and three more in the ninth.

Penn State will play its next four games at home, starting with a three-game series with Big Ten foe Michigan State Friday at 6:30 in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

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