Penn State Sweeps UMass Lowell to Finish Weekend Series
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.—Penn State beat UMass Lowell 3-2, completing a series sweep after Ryan Ford’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th inning.
Ford coming into the game only had seven plate appearances but made the most of his opportunities today. He broke the tie in the bottom of the 6th inning after a sacrifice fly giving the Nittany Lions a 2-1 lead and came up large in the game-defining moment with the walk-off hit in the end.
Penn State head coach Rob Cooper believes that even though Ford’s a freshman, his confidence is only rising.
“Ryan Ford, since the day he’s got here, he’s been very coachable and really loves to hit,” Cooper said. “You can see it, he has a lot of confidence in himself, and shown a real mature approach for a freshman.”
The pitching matchup may have not been too appealing on paper, but it was a great one to watch. Sal Fusco pitched for the River Hawks and his counterpart was Conor Larkin for the Nittany Lions.
Fusco pitch 6.2 innings only allowing two runs and six strikeouts. The main problem Fusco had through his outing was the walks. He was getting down in the count and giving Penn State opportunities to get the lead. However, he kept battling when there were runners on base and got guys out when he needed to and had a very strong outing.
Meanwhile, Larkin also had a strong outing. He struggled to find a rhythm early on but bounced back nicely in the following innings. Larkin threw five innings and only allowed one run. Larkin kept his guys in the ball game with his performance this afternoon.
Larkin acknowledged his early inning struggles and how he was able to bounce back by getting his fastball command under control.
“I think early on all my pitches were all over, it was more about establishing my fastball command, I struggled a bit early but as the innings got on later I was definitely better with it,” Larkin said. “I think as the game went on I figured everything out and it worked out pretty good.”
Offensively, although Penn State only had four hits on the afternoon, they were patient at the plate and had 10 walks. The Nittany Lions had multiple opportunities with runners on base to get more runs but struggled to get a hit in those situations.
Throughout this whole series with the River Hawks, the Nittany Lions were just able to make more plays in the later innings. Whether it was a big hit by someone unexpected, or a strikeout when they absolutely needed it, they got it.
Cooper believes the grit and determination his team has shown made this weekend a successful one.
“You know what, I’m really proud of our kids. That’s a great weekend series and obviously to sweep it is even better” Cooper said. “You saw some toughness and resiliency, and some fight from our guys.”
With this series sweep, Penn State is now 13-3 to start this season. Getting off to a good start the season was incredibly important for the Nittany Lions because it gives them confidence moving forward. Penn State a month into the season is only two wins away from matching last year’s win total at 15.
Now, with Big Ten play right around the corner when a tough Minnesota Golden Gophers team comes to town next weekend for a three-game series, it will be interesting to see if the momentum continues.
Matthew McClure is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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