By Cliff Corcoran
May 16, 2014

Triple plays don't happen all that often. The major leagues have averaged roughly four triple plays per season for the last 80 years. In 2013, there was just one triple play in 2,431 regular season games. On Friday afternoon, Penn State turned two against Michigan State in the span of four innings.

The two triple plays, which occurred in the top of the fourth and eighth innings, were remarkably similar. In both cases, the Spartans had runners on first and second and put them in motion. The batter then hit a line drive to one of the Nittany Lions' middle infielders for the first out after which both runners were doubled off their bases for the other two outs. The first triple play saw Penn State shortstop Jim Haley make the first two outs unassisted before throwing to first. During the second, Nittany Lions second baseman Taylor Skerpon snagged the liner and flipped to Haley for the second out and the pivot to first. Despite the triple plays, the Spartans actually won the game, 4-2.

Two triple plays in one game had happened once in NCAA history before Friday, with the first coming in 2006 when Gonzaga did it against Washington State, and it has occurred once in major league history as well.

In the latter case, the Twins tripled up the Red Sox twice on July 17, 1990. Both were around-the-horn, 5-4-3  triple plays with force outs at third, second and first base. The first came with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth, while the second came with men on first and second and the runners in motion in the bottom of the eighth. Third baseman Gary Gaetti, who initiated both plays, second baseman Al Newman with the all-important pivot, and first baseman Kent Hrbek participated in the trifecta. Former Twin Tom Brunanski hit into the first. Boston second baseman Jody Reed hit into the second. The Twins also lost the game 1-0.

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