California Dreaming for Baseball

Pat Boland of ESPN Radio, WMAJ 1450 AM is the radio play-by-play voice of Penn State baseball. He will also offer occasional updates on the Nittany Lions, new coach Robbie Wine and other topics for FOS throughout the season.

WHAT'S UP: The Nittany Lions are 1-3 and they are coming off a disappointing performance in the Hughes Brothers Challenge in Wilmington, N.C. The Nittany Lions beat UNC-Wilmington (4-3), but they lost to George Mason (6-5) and James Madison (6-5).

WHAT'S NEXT: The Pepsi/Johnny Quick Classic Tournament in Fresno, Calif., starting Monday. The Nittany Lions take on Monmouth (0-3), Gonzaga (6-4) and Dallas Baptist (7-5) in opening-round play. They will play either Southern Utah, Penn, San Francisco or Fresno State in the next three games of the tournament.

WHO'S HOT: Sophomore outfielder Matt Lewis is leading the team with a .533 average. He is 8 of 15 with two doubles and one home run. Sophomore catcher Joe Blackburn is also pounding the baseball. He is hitting .471 (8 of 17) with a pair of doubles and one homer.

WHO'S NOT: Third baseman Scott Gummo is 0 of 15 and first baseman Clint Eury is 0 if 12. The Nittany Lions need Gummo and Eury to generate runs, and Coach Robbie Wine is being patient with these big hitters. Gummo is recovering from knee surgery, and that might be the reason he's not comfortable at the plate. Eury has been a slow starter the past few seasons.

PITCHING POWERS: Starting pitchers Alan Stidfole, Sean Stidfole, and Craig Clark gave Penn State solid outings in North Carolina. This season the Nittany Lion starters have given up 14 earned runs in 26 innings with 24 strikeouts and nine walks. Wine must find another starter or two on the Fresno trip, because the team will play four-game series in Big Ten play.

ARM TROUBLE: Eury gets another mention. The lefty closer was unable to shut down George Mason and James Madison in North Carolina. Eury is 0-1 and he's surrendered four hits and three runs in 1 1/3 innings. The Nittany Lion bullpen is a work in progress.

FROM THE WINE CELLAR: New coach Wine and assistants Jon Ramsey, Jason Bell and Rob Watson are learning what this team can do. The Nittany Lions had problems at the plate in the middle innings in North Carolina, and the coaches expect improvement in Fresno. … The 2005 Nittany Lions are aggressive on the bases and at the plate, and the team likes the new approach. … Don't discount the opponents in the Fresno Tournament. This season Gonzaga defeated powerhouse Arizona State, 2-0. Dallas Baptist finished the 2004 season with an RPI higher than any Big Ten school.


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