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Industriales fends off Nittany Lions

HAVANA, Cuba – A two-run first inning was enough for Industriales, as it fended off a late rally by Penn State to defeat the Nittany Lions, 2-1, in an international friendly baseball game Monday afternoon in Latin American Stadium.

Center fielder Austin Riggins drove in designated hitter Nick Riotto for Penn State’s lone run in the seventh inning.

Right fielder Jordan Bowersox had Penn State’s first hit in the third inning. First baseman Tyler Kendall and catcher Alex Malinsky led the Nittany Lions at the plate, both going 2-for-4.

Industriales used seven different pitchers, scattering nine hits. LHP Taylor Lehman and RHP Nick Distasio pitched four innings each and combined to allow just five hits.

With the game, Penn State became the first NCAA Division I team to compete against a Cuban National Series team, the first U.S. baseball team to play in Cuba since restoration of diplomatic ties with Cuba, the second NCAA team to play in Cuba since restoration of diplomatic ties (Coastal Carolina men’s basketball, August 2015) and the fifth NCAA Division I baseball team to compete in post-revolutionary Cuba

“I’m really proud of our guys; I thought our guys battled,” Penn State coach Rob Cooper said. “I thought the pitchers from both sides, Industriales and our two guys, Lehman and Distastio, did a great job. We swung the bat and had some opportunities, but we just have to figure out a way to get through.

“Overall, our guys played hard, they competed, and again, you’re playing a really prestigious team like Industriales. So to play them in foreign country and have a game like that, I am really proud of our kids.”

In the first inning, Lehman surrendered a walk to the leadoff batter, and centerfielder Carlos Tabares followed with a bloop single into shallow left centerfield. Both advanced into scoring position on a groundout.

Left fielder Andres Hernandez followed with a sacrifice fly to score the first Industriales run, and an error allowed the second run to score unearned.

Lehman retired the side in the second inning, struck out a pair in the third and used a diving catch by Riggins to end the fourth. He left the game after the inning, with a line of three hits, two runs (one earned), two walks and two strikeouts.

The Lions got on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh inning. Riotto led the inning off with a single and advanced to second on a balk, the second of the day called against an Industriales pitcher. Riggins tried to sacrifice him to third but failed twice to fall into an 0-2 count. He delivered with a hard-hit bouncer up the middle to score Riotto.

Double plays in the seventh and eighth innings prevented Penn State from scoring again though. Malinsky singled with two outs in the ninth, but Juan Penalver was able to earn a strikeout to end the game.

Hockey earns ranking

UNIVERSITY PARK – The Penn State men’s hockey team program entered the USCHO.com rankings for the first time this season, coming in at No. 20.

The Nittany Lions received 69 points from the 50-voter panel to earn the program’s third ever ranking.

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