It’s no secret the Penn State-Pitt rivalry will return to the gridiron this summer, and the rivalry will hit the baseball diamond Wednesday night at 6:00 p.m. at the Charles L. Cost Field on the University of Pittsburgh campus.
The Nittany Lions and Panthers have been squaring off on the baseball field dating back to 1912 for a total of 129 meetings. Penn State holds the all-time advantage in the match-up by way of its 86 victories over its in-state rival. Pitt has won 42 games in the all-time series, and the two teams have tied once.
Penn State enters the mid-week, non-conference game with an 11-game winning streak over Pennsylvania opponents, and the Nittany Lions previously beat Pitt 7-0 at Medlar Field on April 5th.
This season marks the best win total for the Nittany Lions (25) since 2012, when they won 29 games overall. At 25-23, Penn State looks to gain momentum entering a pivotal conference series against Nebraska this coming weekend. And the series will be especially important after Penn State was swept by TCU last weekend, so the Nittany Lions aim to get back on track and continue their winning ways against their in-state rival.
As for Pitt, the Panthers enter Wednesday night’s matchup on a high note after winning a series at Notre Dame over the weekend and completing a season sweep of Youngstown State on Tuesday.
Pitt sits at 24-19 on the season and boasts an impressive ACC record with wins over nationally ranked opponents North Carolina, Florida State, Clemson and Georgia Tech. The Panthers are currently in fourth place in the Coastal Division of the ACC, and a victory against Penn State would help as Pitt heads to Miami for this weekend’s series looking to take a chunk out of the Hurricanes’ division lead.
Who to Watch
Toeing the rubber for Penn State should be RHP Eli Nabholz, who is 2-0 on the season with a 5.67 ERA. Complementing Nabholz on the pitching staff is all-time Penn State saves leader Jack Anderson.
At the plate, third baseman Jim Haley leads head coach Rob Cooper’s squad with a .339 batting average. Also helping the Penn State offense click is leadoff hitter Nick Riotto. The rightfielder currently has a .433 on-base percentage and sits behind Haley in batting average, hitting .316 on the season.
For the Panthers, RHP Sam Mersing, who is looking to earn his sixth win of the season, will toe the rubber. Mersing currently has a record of 5-2 with an ERA of 5.79.
On the offensive side for Pitt, designated Jacob Wright will carry a seven-game game hit streak into Wednesday night’s game. Also streaking for the Panthers is shortstop Charles Leblanc, who has had hit streaks of 13-games and 10-games to go along with the 3-game hit streak he is currently on.
The Penn State roster is filled with Western PA flavor, boasting five players who have played in the WPIAL.
Taylor Lehman— Pittsburgh/Keystone Oaks
Nick Riotto— Washington/Trinity
Jake Pilewicz— Sewickley/Quaker Valley
Dakota Forsyth— Bethel Park/Bethel Park
Christian Helsel— Altoona/Altoona
First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday night with a temperature around 60 degrees. The game can be seen on ESPN3.