UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – A trip to the southwest, a return to PNC Park, regional matchups and the Big Ten slate are among the highlights of the 2018 Penn State baseball schedule unveiled Wednesday by head coach Rob Cooper.
The 54-game schedule features 26 home games in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, 24 road games and four neutral site games. Game day promotions and ticket information for the home slate and PNC Park game will be announced at a later date, and all dates and opponents are subject to change.
Included in the neutral site games is a return to PNC Park, as Penn State and West Virginia will trek to Pittsburgh for a second consecutive year to play in the home of Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates. The 2018 meeting will take place Tuesday, April 10.
“I want to thank the Pittsburgh Pirates organization, Frank Coonelly, and Mr. Nutting for allowing our student-athletes the opportunity to play again in one of the best venues in all of baseball,” said Cooper. “This is going to be another great experience for our Penn State baseball family and fans!”
“The Pirates are thrilled to have another opportunity to showcase these two great collegiate baseball programs at PNC Park, one of the most iconic ballparks in Major League Baseball,” said Pirates President Frank Coonelly. “Our organization has so many alumni from and supporters of both of these outstanding institutions that it is truly an honor to provide these two programs with the chance to play before their large fan bases in Pittsburgh.”
West Virginia is among the five teams on the Nittany Lions’ schedule that played in last season’s NCAA Baseball Tournament. Penn State will host at-large selection St. John’s (Feb. 25) at its tournament at the USA Baseball National Training Center in Cary, North Carolina, host West Virginia (Apr. 3) in addition to the PNC Park game, visit Big Ten foes Michigan (Apr. 20-22) and Iowa (May 17-19) and host defending Big East Tournament Champions Xavier (May 10-12) in the home finale.
“These are the type of programs we want to play because these are the types of programs that are going to make us better and get us ready for the postseason,” said Cooper.
Penn State will play its first 12 games away from Medlar Field, playing the first six in North Carolina (at Elon, Feb. 16-18; at USA Baseball NTC vs. UMBC, Monmouth and St John’s Feb. 23-25) before crossing the country over spring break to play three games at UC Santa Barbara (Mar. 3-5) and three games at Grand Canyon in Phoenix, Arizona (Mar. 8-10).
The home opener is slated for Wednesday, Mar. 14 against Mount St. Mary’s, which will open a six-game homestand, including NJIT over the weekend (Mar. 16-18) and midweek contests against Bucknell (Mar. 20) and Pitt (Mar. 21).
The Nittany Lions open their Big Ten slate at Rutgers (Mar. 23-25), and will also visit Minnesota (Apr. 6-8), Michigan (Apr. 20-22) and Iowa (May 17-19). Penn State hosts Purdue (Mar. 30-Apr. 1), Ohio State (Apr. 13-Apr. 15), Northwestern (Apr. 27-29) and Michigan State (May 4-5).
Additional midweek non-conference games at Medlar include Binghamton (Mar. 27), Cornell (Mar. 28), St. Bonaventure (Apr. 4) and Bucknell (Apr. 24). Penn State will also play across the state, at Lafayette (Apr. 25), at Pittsburgh (May 8) and at Villanova (May 15).
Penn State is carrying 34 student-athletes on its roster in the fall, with the Nittany Lions bringing in 13 additions to join a returning group of 21 that includes two returning starting pitchers and six returning starting position players. The newcomers include six early signees announced last November, five additional incoming freshmen, one transfer and one dual-sport athlete.