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Feb. 16, 2013
JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Amidst snow flurries and atypical baseball temperatures, the Penn State baseball team dropped an 8-3 decision to Eastern Tennessee State University Saturday afternoon, bringing the three-game series to a 1-1 split. The Nittany Lions (1-1) will take on the Buccaneers (1-1) in the final contest tomorrow at 1:05 p.m. at Thomas Field. Live stats are available at StatsBroadcast.
Freshman Griffin Krieg made his collegiate debut on the mound for the Bucs, earning the win with four strikeouts, one hit and just two earned runs in five innings of action. Despite the Lions jumping out to an early lead in the top of the second, Krieg was able to hold off the offense to allow his team to score three unanswered runs between the third and fifth innings. The rookie threw 88 pitches against 18 batters for his first career win.
Despite the cold, the Lions were able to generate momentum at their first turn taking the field. Starting pitcher Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas) kicked off a sharp double play in the top of the first, eliminating Dylan Tritsch and Andrew Green at second and first, respectively, for two quick outs. Hill pitched six innings for Penn State, striking out five with eight hits and four earned runs.
Penn State's offense kicked into gear at the top of the second, with freshman James Coates (Girard, Ohio) and sophomore Aaron Novak (Ambler, Pa.) making moves to get on the board. Coates drew an error from Krieg, stealing second to distract the defense. Novak was able to advance home from third base on the error, giving the Lions a 1-0 lead. An ensuing single from sophomore Taylor Skerpon (Sayre, Pa.) added to the lead, batting in Coates from second. Hill helped complete the inning, striking out Jeremy Taylor and Kevin Phillips, followed by a 4-3 play from Luis Montesinos (Miami, Fla.) and J.J. White (Lansdowne, Va.) to shut down Chris Riopedre.
The Bucs' defense immediately stepped up, however, consecutively halting redshirt junior Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.), Montesinos and White at first base. ETSU finally posted a run in the bottom of the third, with junior Clinton Freeman hitting a hard double to bat in Green. With Derek Niesman at the plate, the senior singled to right field to bring home Freeman, tying the game at 2-2.
Unable to regain the lead after a 1-2-3 out sequence in the top of the fourth, the Lions again went on the defense. With Phillips on second and Hershey on first, Green singled to left field, allowing Phillips to advance and score on the throw. The Bucs now had a 3-2 lead, but ended the inning immediately after with Tritsch striking out looking.
The Lions continued to battle, quickly terminating ETSU's offense with a double play in the bottom of the fifth. With a hard hit from Niesman, Hill instinctively made the grab and threw back to White to stop Freeman in his tracks. The pitcher then went on to strike out Trey York to end the inning and keep the scoring deficit to one run.
However, pitcher Logan Rice took the mound for the Buc's and held the Lions without a hit in the top of the sixth. ETSU began to pull away as they returned to the plate, with Taylor doubling to left field and Hershey singling to bat in the freshman. With another 1-2-3 out sequence for Penn State, a bunt from Niesman loaded the bases at the bottom of the seventh. York reached on a fielder's choice, with Niesman out at second, but the damage was done as pinch hitter Zach Thompson scored to extend the lead to 5-2.
Penn State came out at the top of the eighth determined to get out of the box, with Coates singling to left field to move pinch runner Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) to second base. Skerpon followed with a single to load the bases, leaving it up to Snyder to make the play. The center fielder came through with a sac fly to right field, allowing Searer to shorten ETSU's lead to 5-3.
Niesman would secure the win for the Bucs in the bottom of the eighth, recording his first home run of the season. The senior earned three RBIs with Thompson and Freeman scoring, as well. With three straight Penn State strikeouts in the top of the ninth from Freeman, who stepped in as the closer from first base, ETSU claimed the game with a final score of 8-3.
Novak, Searer and Coates each tallied a run for the Lions, while Snyder and Skerpon each earned an RBI. Niesman came away with four RBIs and a run for the Bucs, while Freeman recorded an RBI and two runs, as well as three strikeouts without a single hit.
Check back to GoPSUSports.com for continued updates during the 2013 season. Follow us on Twitter at twitter.com/PennStateBASE and find us on Facebook at facebook.com/pennstatebaseball.
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