Baseball set to open 125th season against ETSU

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State baseball team will kick off the 125th season of the program on Friday afternoon, as they take on East Tennessee State University on Feb. 15 at 2:35 p.m. in Johnston City. The Nittany Lions will face the Buccaneers at 1:05 p.m on Feb. 16. and on Feb. 17 to complete the three-game series. All games can be followed via StatBroadcast.

Penn State looks to open the 2013 season strong, competing in its first opening weekend series since 2008. The Lions are coming off of one of the most successful seasons in the past five years, going 29-27 overall and 15-9 in the Big Ten for a third-place finish. In the past 10 years, Penn State has gone 11-19 in the first three games of the season, while posting a 7-5 record in the past four years during the Big East/Big Ten Challenge Tournament.

A strong core of the 2012 Lions return for the 2013 campaign, with five position players returning. Leading the squad this year, seniors Luis Montesinos (Miami, Fla.) and Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) are the veterans of the infield, with redshirt junior Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) and sophomore Aaron Novak (Ambler, Pa.) stepping up in the outfield. The four returners combined for 202 starts, 182 hits and 61 RBIs last season. Additionally, Penn State returns both sophomore J.C. Coban (Boca Raton, Fla.) and junior Alex Farkes (Boston, Mass.) to compete for the starting catcher position. Coban came away from 2012 with 32 hits, 18 RBIs, 15 runs and three homeruns, while Farkes produced 17 hits, seven RBIs, 11 runs and two homeruns.

The returning pitching staff boasts veteran Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas), who pitched the first Penn State no-hitter since 1995 on April 21, 2012, along with redshirt senior Dave Walkling (Nanaimo, B.C.), junior Greg Welsh (Holland, Pa.), redshirt senior Cody Lewis (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and sophomore Casey Kulina (Hummelstown, Pa.). Of the nine pitchers who appeared in at least 15 games last season, seven will be returning.

Walkling, who posted a 3.74 ERA in 20 appearances last season, is expected to make the start for Penn State on Friday. The redshirt senior saw 21.2 innings of action, accumulating a 1-1 record with seven saves, five of which were consecutive. Head coach Robbie Wine, at the helm of the Lions for his ninth season, will also hand the ball to Hill on Saturday and sophomore Patton Taylor (Nichols, N.Y.) on Sunday. Hill started in all 15 of his appearances last season and came away with a 5-4 record, while Patton ended his season early due to an injury, only able to pitch three games with one start.

The Bucs are coming off a 23-32 overall record with a 8-19 mark in the Atlantic Sun Conference. ETSU will welcome back 13 letterman, as well as 19 newcomers into the fold. Although the squad lost key pitchers Jake Long and John Long, the Bucs return Kerry Doane, Jimmy Nesselt and Griffin Krieg, who are all expected to take the mound this weekend as starters.

Following the action this weekend, the Lions will travel to Virginia to take on Liberty for a three-game series, beginning on Friday, Feb. 22.

Check back to GoPSUSports.com for continued updates on the 2013 season. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/PennStateBASE and find us on Facebook at facebook.com/pennstatebaseball.

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Last Updated February 14, 2013