Penn State rallied for three runs in its final two at-bats as Illinois held on to complete a weekend Big Ten baseball sweep of the Nittany Lions with a 7-6 triumph on Sunday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Penn State (17-19 overall, 5-6 Big Ten) had not lost at home in its previous eight games before being swept by the Illini (21-14, 9-3). Illinois swept the Nittany Lions last season in Champaign.
Trailing 7-3 in the eighth inning, the Nittany Lions closed to within three runs on James Coates’ RBI double to center.
Penn State opened the ninth by loading the bases on singles by Taylor Skerpon and pinch-hitter Ryky Smith after Jim Haley had drawn a leadoff walk. Zach Ell’s RBI groundout cut the margin to 7-5 and left runners at first and third. Ryan Richter followed with an RBI single to center to cut the lead to a run and leaving baserunners at first and second.
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Even though Alex Farkes had gone 2-for-3, Penn State coach Rob Cooper then sent up pinch-hitter Tyler Kendall. Reliever Tyler Jay got Kendall to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game.
Penn State led 1-0 after one on Haley’s RBI single to center, but the lead would not last as starter Ian Parvin struggled. Parvin (3-2) allowed eight hits and five earned runs in three innings.
Michael Hurwitz had an RBI single in the Illini’s two-run second and they added a run in the third on Ryne Roper’s RBI single. The first two Illini batters reached in the fourth and Dakota Forsyth replaced Parvin. Forsyth was promptly greeted by David Kerian’s RBI double and two more runs scored on sacrifice flies.
Penn State rebounded in the bottom of the fourth with two runs. Coates drove in the first with a sacrifice fly and Greg Guers added an RBI single up the middle.
Illinois notched a run without a hit in the fifth and the score stayed 7-3 until Penn State’s late comeback attempt.
Illinois starter Ryan Castellanos (4-2) went six innings, allowing seven hits, walking one and striking out four, to earn the win. Jay’s save was his fifth. Kerian, Roper and Hurwitz each had two hits for the Illini.
Led by three singles from Richter, Penn State outhit Illinois 14-10. Coates, Haley, Skerpon and Farkes had two each.
Penn State next travels to Kent State on Tuesday.