Penn State Baseball Looks to Extend Winning Streak vs. Michigan State

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State will look to extend its winning streak beyond eight games when it returns to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park and Big Ten play this weekend, hosting league-leading Michigan State, for a three-game series.

The series is scheduled to open Friday at 6:30 p.m. and continue Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

Friday Probables

PSU LHP Taylor Lehman (1-5, 4.46 ERA)

MSU LHP Cam Vieaux (4-1, 1.60 ERA)

Saturday Probables

PSU RHP Sal Biasi (3-3, 4.15 ERA)

MSU RHP Ethan Landon (2-1, 2.06 ERA)

Sunday Probables

PSU RHP Justin Hagenman (4-1, 1.96 ERA)

MSU RHP Walter Borkovich (4-1, 4.37 ERA)

The Streaks

Penn State has won 12 of its last 14 games and its last eight in a row for its longest winning streak since the 2000 NCAA Super Regional team won 11 in a row. The Nittany Lions are also 10-1 at home this season, dropping only the opener for a Medlar Field at Lubrano Park record 10-game streak. The Lions last won 10 in a row at home in 1989, and that streak continued into 1990 before ending at 15.

Diamond Lions Improving

At 17-12, Penn State owns its best record through 29 games since 2011 when it opened the season at 19-10. The most noticeable gain has been in pitching, as the Lions’ 3.28 team ERA is approximately two runs lower than last season’s and ranks 36th nationally and fourth in the Big Ten. Penn State is also 5-2 in one run games after going just 1-7 in games decided by one run last year, and already has more wins away from Medlar Field at Lubrano Park than it did all of last season.

Youthful Lineup

Penn State is not afraid to rely on its freshmen, as it has used starting lineups featuring at least three freshmen in all but three games, has had no less than two freshmen starting each game, has had as many as five start on six occasions and a season-high of six at Lafayette (4/8). Freshman RHP Justin Hagenman leads the team with a 4-1 record and has a rotation-leading 1.96 ERA, while freshman middle infielder Conlin Hughes is just one of three student-athletes to start and play in every game so far this season. Corner infielder Willie Burger is second on the team with 19 RBIs. Penn State’s three-man weekend rotation has consisted entirely of underclassmen. See Freshmen in the Lineup Page 8

Premier Closer

Closer Jack Anderson enters the weekend ranking fifth in the country with a 0.61 ERA and tied for seventh nationally with a Big Ten-leading eight saves. He has broken the Penn State career appearances record with 86 and is threatening the school’s single-season and career saves records.

All-Time vs. Michigan State

Penn State is 33-47 all-time against Michigan State, coming out 1-2 in the three game series last season. After winning the opener, a pair of late errors cost Penn State in the second game, resulting in a 5-4 walk-off MSU win, and then the Spartans clinched the series with a 3-1 win in the finale. The two teams have met every season for the past 18 years. The Spartans have held the upper-hand recently, winning six out of the last seven but, with the exception of one game decided by three runs, all of the games have been decided by two runs or less.

Scouting Michigan State

The Spartans are off to a 19-5 start overall and are tied for the Big Ten lead with a 3-0 start after a sweep over Rutgers. Michigan State started the season at 14-1 for its best start in program history, and currently leads the Big Ten and ranks sixth in the nation with a 2.36 ERA while ranking second in the conference in batting average at .311. Starter Cam Vieaux and reliever Dakota Mekkes are both in the top five of the Big Ten in Ks, with Vieaux ranking third with 45 strikeouts while Mekkes ranks fifth. First baseman Jordan Zimmerman is in the midst of a 17-game hitting streak in which he’s hitting .484 with 17 runs and 14 RBIs.

Back End of Home Stretch

The Michigan State series and a contest against Bucknell next week mark the conclusion of a stretch in which 15 out of the last 19 games were at home.

Penn State is 12-3 so far during the densest part of its home schedule.

Following the Michigan State series and a midweek contest against Bucknell Wednesday, seven of the next eight games will be on the road, starting with a Big Ten series at Northwestern.

Dealing on the Mound

Penn State enters the weekend with a 3.28 team ERA, which ranks 36th in the country and fourth in the Big Ten.

Jack Anderson leads the team with a 0.61 ERA out of the bullpen. He ranks second in the conference and fifth in the nation.

Justin Hagenman (1.96) leads the rotation and ranks seventh in the Big Ten in ERA. He ranks 90th in the country.

Anderson Rewriting the Record Books

Every appearance by Jack Anderson from here on out will be a new Penn State career record, as his 86th career trip to the mound at Lafayette (4/6) set a new standard.

With a career-high eight saves this season, Jack Anderson now has 20 for his career to rank second all-time at Penn State. Drew O’Neil (2007-08) is the Penn State record holder with 22 after posting a single-season record 11 in back-to-back seasons.

Anderson needs three more saves to equal the single-season record.
See Records Watch, Page 23

Keep Watching

Jack Anderson was one of 70 relievers named to the initial watch list for the 12th annual National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Stopper of the Year Award, given to the top relief pitcher in NCAA Division I baseball.

He is notable for his “submarine” style delivery.

Anderson currently ranks fifth in the nation and second in the Big Ten with a 0.61 ERA.

He has not allowed an earned run in his last 10 appearances.

His eight saves lead the Big Ten and rank tied for seveth in the nation.

Anderson leads the Big Ten and ranks 16th in the country with 17 appearances and eight saves.

He pitched a season-high 4 2/3 innings to earn the win in extra innings against Purdue (4/2, G2).

Anderson posted a team-best 2.98 ERA in 2015 to rank ninth amongst all pitchers in the Big Ten. He also led the Nittany Lions with 29 appearances, tallying four wins and five saves, and he finished a third of the Lions’ games. His most impressive stretch in 2015 came late in the season against Pitt, Rutgers and Michigan State when he made appearances in six consecutive games, throwing 14 innings with a 1.93 ERA, 1-1 record and three saves.

Dramatic Finishes

Jack Anderson has worked out of some tough spots this season, often entering before the ninth inning.
Anderson entered in tie games against Purdue (4/1-2, G2) earning the win in both.

He pitched two full innings against Niagara (3/19, G1) for his fourth save of the season.

At Duke, Anderson entered with a runner on second base with two outs in the eighth inning. Anderson hit and walked a batter to load the bases before getting the inning-ending out without allowing a run.

For his second save opportunity, Anderson worked the final 2 1/3 innings with just a one-run cushion.

He entered the game with two outs in the seventh and a runner on first who moved into scoring position on a passed ball.

He earned his first save of the season in dramatic fashion against Army for Penn State’s first victory of the year. Nursing a one-run lead, Anderson entered in the eighth inning with runners on the corners and no outs, and did not allow a run over the final two innings.

Getting in Guer

Greg Guers appears to have broken out of an early-season slump, as he has been Penn State’s hottest hitter over the last 10 games.

He started the season batting just .083 going 3-for-36 over the first 11 games.

Over the last 10, Guers is batting .368 (14-for-38) with eight extra base hits – twice as many as anyone else on the team during the same span – including six doubles, a triple, a home run and seven RBIs.

Guers enters the weekend batting .242, nearly a 100 point improvement from his .151 average before the last 10 games.

Guers is currently on a four-game hit streak on which he is batting .471 (8-for-17) with five doubles and four RBIs.

To start the streak he went a combined 5-for-9 with two doubles, three runs scored and an RBI in a doubleheader against Purdue (4/2). Guers’ lead-off double in the bottom of the 12th of game two ignited a three-run inning for a walk-off win.

Guers enjoyed a career season in 2015 with eight home runs (7th in Big Ten), 38 RBIs, 13 doubles, 14 stolen bases on 15 attempts, 101 total bases and a .495 slugging percentage to lead the team in all categories.

Red-Hot Riotto

Nick Riotto owns Penn State’s longest active hitting streak at six games.
He is batting .500 during the stretch, going 13-for-26 with a team-high nine RBIs, seven runs, a home run, two doubles and two walks and a hit-by-pitch for a .533 on-base percentage.

His home run at Lafayette (4/6) was his first this season and the second of his career.

Riotto has not struck out during the streak and is the only Lion batter with an at-bat over the last six games to not strikeout.

Riotto went eight consecutive games without a strikeout from 3/7 to 3/19.

Haley’s Comets

Jim Haley picked up where he left off to start the 2016 season.

After batting .436 with seven doubles and a triple over final nine games of the 2015 season, Haley opened the 2016 campaign with a 10-game hitting streak.

Haley had an 11-game hitting streak halted in the final game of the Purdue series (4/2).

He leads the team entering the weekend with a .351 batting average, 20 RBIs, 12 extra base hits and is tied for the team lead withGreg Guers with two home runs.

In his most recent outing at Lafayette, Haley posted his second three-hit game of the season and drove in a season-high three runs.

Haley has had a hit in all but three games this season: at Duke (3/9), Niagara (3/18) and Purdue (4/2, G2).

For the first time in his career, he has drawn starts at third base this season.

Haley hit his first career home run during the South Carolina series.

More Than Batting Average

The Lions lead the Big Ten and rank 46th in the country with 133 walks.

At first glance it might be surprising that James Coates, is drawing regular starts in left field with a .139 batting average, but the senior’s patience at the plate has resulted in a team-best 24 walks as well as a .373 on-base percentage, which ranks fourth on the team.

The 24 walks rank fourth in the conference and 46th in the country.

He ranks seventh all-time at Penn State with 90 career walks, 36 shy of the record.

Coates also leads the team and ranks fourth in the conference with five sacrifice bunts this season.

Triples

With 12 triples on the season, Penn State leads the Big Ten and ranks 25th in the country.

An RBI-triple by Tyler Kendall in the eighth inning against Purdue (4/1) resulted in the go-ahead run in the game

Jim Haley leads the team with three to rank second in the league and 48th in the country.


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