DuBOIS — Penn State DuBois used a seven-run fourth inning and a dominant performance on the mound from Caleb Bennett to secure a 9-1 win over Wright State-Lake in its opening game of the USCAA Small College World Series Monday night at Showers Field.
Bennett, a First team All-American, pitched a complete game, allowing five hits and just one unearned run along with four strikeouts over seven innings to record the win.
Penn State DuBois head coach Tom Calliari said it is a boost for his team to have a senior leader like Bennett on the mound in an important game.
“Anytime you pitch Caleb Bennett, he’s gonna keep you in the game no matter what and you’ve just gotta find an opportunity to score some runs,” Calliari said.
The head coach also noted the importance of his team’s ability to create runs early in the game with stolen bases and timely hitting.
The game was a pitchers’ duel early, as neither Bennet or Wright State-Lake starting pitcher Casey Grimm allowed a hit through two innings of play.
After allowing a one-out walk to Brandon Gettig in the top of the third, Grimm faced Nittany Lions’ leadoff man Garrett Brown.
Brown fouled the first pitch of the at-bat out of play down the right field line, but after the foul ball, the attention turned to Grimm on the mound, as the coaching staff and trainers came out to talk with the starter.
After a discussion on the mound, and without attempting any practice pitches, Grimm exited the game with an apparent injury and was replaced by Lucas Sheriff on the mound.
Calliari said Grimm did well holding off the Nittany Lions’ aggressiveness on the base pads and it was unfortunate to see him exit the game with an injury.
“It probably would have been a 2-1 game without that, but our guys did a good job taking advantage of it,” he said.
Gettig then stole second and third base with Sheriff on the mound and then came in to score on a groundout to shortstop by Brown to give PSU-DuBois a 1-0 lead.
Gettig finished the game with three walks, scoring a pair of runs and driving in one run to lead the Nittany Lions’ offense.
The Lakers responded in the top of the fourth, as Isaac Fitzgerald and Connor Burr led the inning off with a pair of singles and advanced into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Tyler Venters.
After Bennett picked off Burr at second, Dustin Lewis reached on a walk to give the Lakers runners on the corners with two outs.
Bennett’s attempt to pick off Lewis at first backfired, as the ball bounced passed first baseman Dan Bowman, bringing Fitzgerald in to score to tie the game at 1-1.
The Nittany Lions took advantage of Wright State mistakes in the next inning to break open the game, as seven runs came in to score in the inning on six walks and a pair of singles.
The first seven batters of the inning all reached base and all came around to score, as Joey Dipietro, Lance Pennington and Clayton Butler all reached base on walks to load the bases with nobody out.
Dan Bowman then reached on the inning’s fourth walk to bring pinch runner Thayne Morgan in to score and give Penn State DuBois the lead for good.
Bennett helped his own cause with an RBI single up the middle, followed by walks from Gettig and pinch hitter Vince McDowell to bring the score to 5-1.
Toner Corl drove in a run on a groundout to short, as Talon Falls pushed the lead to 7-1 with an RBI single to right field.
The final run of the inning came on a sacrifice fly to deep right field by Dipietro, bringing Brown in to score.
The Nittany Lions added a run in the top of the seventh to stretch their lead to 9-1, as Bennett continued his gem on the mound.
The game ended in a fitting way, as Bennett forced a groundout right back to the mound as he flipped it over to Bowman at first to record the game’s final out.
Calliari acknowledged the large crowd’s support, saying fans helped energize the team and helped lead them to the win.
The head coach also added that Bennett’s complete game was huge for his team moving forward in the tournament, as he was able to save the rest of his pitchers for upcoming games.
The win was Penn State DuBois third in as many years against Wright State at the World Series. DuBois beat the Lakers, 3-2, two years ago before capturing a lopsided 17-5 victory last year.
Penn State DuBois will face the winner of Apprentice School and Selma University, a game that was originally scheduled for Monday night, but will be played today at 8:30 a.m.
The Nittany Lions’ game in the winners bracket of the tournament is scheduled for approximately 6:30 p.m. today.
Corl is expected to get the start on the mound today for Penn State DuBois.