Penn State Falls to Notre Dame, 8-5
Feb. 20, 2011
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - The Penn State baseball team grabbed an early lead, but Notre Dame fought back and pieced together a five-run third inning that helped catapult the Fighting Irish over the Nittany Lions, 8-5, during the final day of the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge at the Walter Fuller Complex on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.
Despite falling short on the scoreboard, Penn State out-hit Notre Dame, 10-7. Ryan Clark, Sean Deegan, Michael Glantz, and Bobby Jacobs all had two hits for the Lions, while Jordan Steranka went 1-for-4 with an RBI.
With the setback, Penn State finished the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge with a 2-1 record for the third straight season. Notre Dame also finished 2-1 during this year's competition.
After struggling to find its rhythm early in yesterday's game against West Virginia, the Nittany Lion offense had no such problem against the Irish. In the top of the first, Deegan got the ball rolling with a line-drive triple down the rightfield line that ricocheted high off the wall just above the 340-sign. Two batters later, Steranka drove him in with a laser through the right side of the infield.
Following the early run support, Penn State starter John Walter cruised through the first two innings before laboring a bit in the third. After a leadoff walk and a sacrifice bunt, Notre Dame benefited from a strange series of events to grab the lead with a huge five-run rally.
With one down and a man on second, Mick Doyle lined a shot to centerfield, which glanced off Deegan's glove as David Casey came around to score. Herman Petzold followed with a high-arcing shot that Penn State lost in the sky resulting in a sun-aided double that gave Notre Dame a 2-1 advantage.
Eric Jagielo came through next, reaching on an infield miscue that chased home the third run. The tide momentarily turned in favor of Penn State after Luis Montesinos was able to make a quick read on a line drive into the right centerfield gap. In a full gallop, the sophomore outfielder tracked the ball and made the grab after leaping to his right while reaching across his body to glove the shot.
Unfortunately, the next ball was just out of Montesinos' reach as Trey Mancini laced an RBI triple down the line before Frank Desico knocked in another run with a single to center that allowed the Irish to grab a 5-1 lead.
Although the momentum had clearly settled on Notre Dame's side, the Nittany Lions continued to battle. In the top of the fourth, Steranka reached on an error and advanced to third on a base hit by Joey DeBernardis. Mario Eramo followed with an RBI groundout before Glantz ripped a single to center that plated another run and pulled Penn State back within two at 5-3.
Notre Dame tried to respond in the bottom of the inning as the squad put runners on the corners with two down. Despite the pressure, Penn State worked out of the jam after Deegan made a great play. The centerfielder tracked a shot into the rightfield gap and made a soaring, over-the-shoulder catch to end the threat.
Although Deegan kept them quiet for one inning, the Fighting Irish were eventually able to add some insurance runs with a solo shot by Mancini in the fifth and another run in the sixth.
Trailing 7-3 entering the top of the seventh, the Nittany Lions fired right back. Jacobs kicked off the rally with a double down the leftfield line and scored on a two-base hit by Clark. Following a pitching change, Deegan knocked in Clark with a ground-rule double that hit off the warning track and cleared the fence.
Now trailing 7-5, the Lions put the tying runs on base with two outs in the eighth, but Notre Dame reliever Anthony McIver settled down and induced a fly ball that ended the rally. One inning later, after the Irish put another insurance run on the board, he returned to close out the game by striking out the side in the ninth to earn the save.
Todd Miller picked up the win for Notre Dame after scattering seven hits and four earned runs over 6.1 innings. Walter took the loss for Penn State despite allowing just one earned run in his three innings on the mound.
Penn State will return to action tomorrow at noon when the Lions take on the Nexen Heroes of Korea in an exhibition game at Progress Energy Park.