State College coach Troy Allen describes Saturday’s baseball doubleheader at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park as a community event.
The Little Lions will take on Bellefonte after Penn State’s game against Ohio State, which is set to start at 2 p.m. Allen looks forward to supporting the Nittany Lions and coach Rob Cooper, whose son, Tyson, plays for State College. Bellefonte coach Dan Fravel teaches at State College and thinks fans will enjoy the matchup between the local high schools.
Allen expressed a similar sentiment.
“It’s not just about the players or the game,” Allen said. “I really believe this will be a well-attended event amongst the community, especially given it’s State College against Bellefonte, defending state champion.
“I don’t think you can really put it in a box that it’s just about these baseball teams.”
State College will be playing at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park for the first time, while Bellefonte captured the PIAA Class 3A championship at the stadium last year.
Allen said State College has been trying to schedule a game at the home of the State College Spikes for “many years.” Fravel served as an assistant coach on the Little Lions staff for nine years and said it was a topic of discussion every season.
“We kept always trying to gain access to that,” Fravel said. “It’s a beautiful facility. It was always tricky to try to find a matchup.”
This year, the State College and Bellefonte athletic directors and the Spikes worked out the logistics to schedule the game.
“This is a big deal,” Allen said. “It picked up some steam last year. We almost got it done, and this year we did. They’ve put a lot of work into it. Certainly the university has played their role as well.
“You try to get three parties to make this thing happen – obviously you have the schools, but then you have the university and then you have the Spikes themselves, so it’s not an easy thing to put on.”
Allen said his team plans to watch as much of the Penn State game as possible before preparing for its game Saturday. He said the Nittany Lions’ coach has welcomed him to watch practices and to sit in on team-building workshops.
And Allen has implemented what he’s learned into his program, taking bits and pieces of Penn State’s infield-outifled routine and watching how Cooper questions his players.
“From a coaching standpoint, he has influenced me tremendously and I have passed that down through our team,” Allen said.
Allen and Fravel both said their players have plenty of experience playing at college stadiums in summer showcases.
The Red Raiders will know what to expect after winning the state title at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park last June.
“That’s as cool as you get, 5,000 fans mostly rooting for you in your hometown, backyard,” Fravel said. “It’s a lot of pressure. It’s very fun and it’s on the same playing surface there at Medlar that we played last year, so that experience will go a long ways for the boys.”
Still, Saturday’s game will be a unique experience for both teams to play at State College’s professional baseball stadium.
“When you’re that age, the opportunity to play at a facility like that with perfectly manicured grass and perfect dirt, and you know you’re going to get perfect hops,” Allen said, “those are all the things that these boys are looking forward to, particularly given that that’s not what they play on locally. Yeah, they’re looking forward to it.”
State College vs. Bellefonte baseball
When: Saturday after the 2p.m. Penn State-Ohio State game; the university estimates the start time to be around 6 p.m.
Where: Medlar Field at Lubrano Park
Admission: Free with purchase of ticket to Penn State game; $3 for general admission ticket