SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Penn State hit two solo home runs and two Nittany Lion pitchers allowed just four singles in a 4-2 win over Sacramento State in the series opener Thursday at John Smith Field.
Sacramento State (7-5) senior Justin Dillon, who had allowed just one run on two hits and two walks through his first three starts of the season, pitched well again on Thursday but the Nittany Lions made their hits count. Dillon allowed just three hits and one walk with five strikeouts over 7.0 innings, but two of the three hits were home runs and the other was an RBI double.
Dillon cruised through the first four innings, allowing just one walk while facing the minimum, but Penn State (5-7) was able to push two runs across in the fifth. Nick Riotto led off the inning with a solo home run, then Braxton Giavedoni was hit by a pitch and scored on an RBI double from Mason Nadeau. The Nittany Lions stranded Giavedoni at third, but the visitors led off the sixth inning with another solo home run off the bat of Jordan Bowersox to take a 3-0 lead.
Things really got interesting in the bottom of the sixth. Devin Lehman led off with a single and James Outman was hit by a pitch, and after a groundout and strikeout the two Hornet base runners stood on second and third with two out. Lehman would score on a wild pitch from Penn State starter Sal Biasi.
Two pitches later Biasi uncorked another wild pitch that ricocheted off the backstop back to catcher Ryan Sloniger, who attempted to tag Outman at the plate. Outman was originally ruled out, but after a discussion the three umpires changed the call to safe, to which Penn State head coach Rob Cooper protested and was eventually ejected. PJ Floyd then walked and stole second and third before a Dawsen Bacho walk, but reliever Nick Distasio got a strikeout to maintain a 3-2 Penn State lead.
The score remained 3-2 into the ninth inning before Penn State's Willie Burger drew a leadoff walk, advanced to second on a bunt, moved to third on a balk, and scored on a Giavedoni sacrifice fly. Floyd singled to lead off the bottom of the ninth but Distasio set down the next three batters.
Distasio went 3.1 innings for the save, allowing just one hit and one walk throwing 59 pitches in relief. Biasi, who earned the win, allowed just three hits but walked three, hit two batters, and had four wild pitches in 5.2 innings.
Sacramento State's four hits came in four different innings. Center fielder Ian Dawkins was hit by a pitch and drew a walk to extend his season-long reached base streak to 12 games. Reliever Ty Fox allowed a single but struck out the side in a scoreless eighth inning.
The Hornets and Nittany Lions meet for game two of the three-game series at 6 p.m. Friday.