Boland on Baseball

Penn State (28-23, 13-16) welcomes Michigan (37-15, 14-12) to Beaver Field for a four-game series this weekend. The Nittany Lions need to sweep the series to earn a spot in the Big Ten tournament and got off to a good start with a 4-3 win Friday. The Lions have not swept a Big Ten series this year.

Hot Plate: Shortstop Mike Milliron had a 15-game hitting streak and his average was .358 heading into the series. Second baseman Jim Leitgeb has had a dramatic turnaround at the plate this season. Last year Leitgeb hit .193, but this year he was hitting .365 with a team leading 13 doubles.

Cold Dish: The Nittany Lions had hit two home runs over the past 20 games prior to Friday. Utility player Colin Runt and catcher Aaron Greenfield were the only Lions to knock one out of the park since April 17. Leading home run hitter Scott Gummo had missed the past four games with a hamstring injury, and he’s not expected to play this weekend against the Wolverines.

Mound Masters: Penn State’s starting pitching has been substandard over the past month. Twins Alan and Sean Stidfole continue to anchor the staff with quality performances. Alan went eight innings and surrendered 12 hits and two runs in his last outing against Michigan State. Sean will got the ball in the first game of the Michigan series and got a no-decision, and Alan will get the start in the second game.

Chill on the Hill: The lefty tandem of Steve Cline and Craig Clark have won just one Big Ten game in 12 starts. Cline has not recorded an out in his past two starts. He gave up 13 runs in starts against Ohio State and Michigan State. Clark has surrendered 17 runs in his past two starts. Cline and Clark may be sent to the bullpen for the Michigan series.

From the Wine Cellar: Michigan’s top relief pitcher is Clayton Richard, who is a quarterback on the Wolverine football team. Richard may want to focus on baseball, because he’s behind Chad Henne on the depth chart. … The Nittany Lions had committed 38 errors over the previous 16 Big Ten game. … Seniors Matt Carroll, Arin Gelletly, Mike Milliron, Josh Palm, and Clint Eury will be honored this weekend during the team banquet and senior day ceremonies. … Coach Robbie Wine is trying to schedule another game at Blair County Ballpark in Altoona for the 2006 season. West Virginia is a possible opponent. … The Big Ten regular-season champion will be crowned this weekend. Illinois, Purdue, Minnesota and Iowa all have a shot at winning the title and earning the right to host the Big Ten tournament.


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