Northwestern baseball battled for nine innings in its series opener against Penn State, but could not get enough timely hitting to take advantage of a good pitching performance from Reed Mason. Northwestern (9-25, 2-8 Big Ten) tied the game in the bottom of the 7th but the bullpen was unable to stop Penn State (20-14, 6-4 Big Ten) from retaking the lead and eventually getting the win.
Mason started for the Wildcats and pitched well, limiting Penn State to just 3 runs over 7.1 innings. He took the loss, however, as he came out to pitch the 7th and was charged with Penn State's go-ahead run. His opponent Taylor Lehman pitched well through four innings but faltered in the 5th.
After a scoreless 1st for both sides, a 2-run opposite field homer for Willie Burger gave Penn State a 2-0 lead in the 2nd inning. But in the bottom of the inning, an infield single from Jake Schieber and a walk for Zach Jones gave Northwestern a scoring opportunity. However, Penn State's Lehman worked out of a jam to prevent the Wildcats from getting on the board.
Northwestern struggled to hit with runners on base for much of the game. The Wildcats left eight players in scoring position and did not get a run across until the 5th inning. Matt Hopfner singled to center and drove in Mat Jones. Then, after a walk to Joe Hoscheit, Penn State coach Rob Cooper was ejected for arguing balls and strikes. Dakota Forsyth then entered in relief and struck out two to keep the Nittany Lions up 2-1.
The Wildcats failed to score with a runner on second in the 6th but got to Penn State's bullpen in the bottom of the next inning. Two walks and an error on Penn State's catcher allowed Northwestern to knot the game at 2. Mason came back in for the 7th and immediately surrendered a leadoff double to Nick Graham. Jim Haley then drove in Graham with a sacrifice fly to give Penn State the lead right back, 3-2.
Penn State added another run in the top of the 9th on a Jordan Bowersox single and Jack Anderson shut down Northwestern to garner the save.
The Wildcats and Nittany Lions continue their series tomorrow afternoon at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park at 2:00 pm CST.