Penn State Baseball Continues Epic Run to Big Ten Championship Game

The Nittany Lions are one win from making their first NCAA Tournament since 2000.
A general view of Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, site of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament.
A general view of Charles Schwab Field in Omaha, site of the Big Ten Baseball Tournament. / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Following another breathless victory at the Big Ten Baseball Tournament, Penn State is one win from its first NCAA Tournament appearance in 24 years. The Nittany Lions on Saturday won their sixth straight game, and third in the postseason, defeating Michigan 7-6 in 10 innings in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals.

With the victory, Penn State advanced to the Big Ten championship game for the first time since 2000. The Nittany Lions, who entered the tournament as the eighth seed, will face second-seeded Nebraska in the conference title game at Charles Schwab Field in Omaha. The Big Ten championship game is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET Sunday on Big Ten Network. Penn State must win the title game to claim the Big Ten's automatic conference bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Penn State (29-23) improved to a surprising 3-0 at the Big Ten Tournament and will play one game for an NCAA berth. The Nittany Lions are making just their second appearance in the Big Ten title game; they fell to Illinois 5-3 in that 2000 final. This year, Penn State has put together a phenomenal and unexpected postseason run.

The Nittany Lions defeated top-seeded Illinois and Michigan in their first two games, getting a go-ahead grand slam from Bryce Molinaro in the eighth inning against Michigan on Thursday. Two days later, Molinaro delivered another key hit, slicing an RBI single to right to tie the game at 5-5. The game remained tied until the 10th, when Adam Cecere launched a two-run home run that proved to be the game-winner. Cecere leads Penn State with 17 home runs and is second on the team with 53 RBI.

"I wish everybody in the world could feel that feeling at some point in their life," Cecere, who transferred to Penn State from Wake Forest, said in the post-game press conference.

Penn State became just the second No. 8 seed to reach the Big Ten championship game. The Nittany Lions have won eight of their last nine conference games, including a three-game sweep of Maryland to close the regular season.

Penn State coach Mike Gambino has won 29 games, a program record for a first-year head coach. The Nittany Lions lead the Big Ten in team batting average (.309) and OPS (.900) and rank second in slugging (.496). After the game, Gambino told Big Ten Network that he sometimes feels like the team is playing slow-pitch softball.

"There are a lot of people out there that might say that they're surprised, but that group's not, and that's what's been the most fun to be around," Gambino told Big Ten Network. "All the focus for really the last five or six weeks has been, 'We're in Game 7, this is where we are, head down and play baseball, head down and play baseball, head down and play baseball.' And they kept doing it and doing, and it's fun to be around right now. And I'm doing my best to just stay out of their way and let them roll."

Big Ten Baseball Tournament Championship Game

  • Who: No. 8 Penn State vs. No. 2 Nebraska
  • When: 11 a.m. ET Sunday
  • Where: Charles Schwab Field, Omaha, Nebraska
  • TV: Big Ten Network
  • Series history: Nebraska leads 18-2 and has won 11 straight games against Penn State dating to 2017. Penn State and Nebraska will meet for the first time this season.

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AllPennState is the place for Penn State news, opinion and perspective on the network. Publisher Mark Wogenrich has covered Penn State for more than 20 years, tracking three coaching staffs, three Big Ten titles and a catalog of great stories. Follow him on Twitter @MarkWogenrich.

Mark Wogenrich


Mark Wogenrich is Editor and Publisher of AllPennState, the site for Penn State news on SI's FanNation Network. He has covered Penn State sports for more than two decades across three coaching staffs and three Rose Bowls.