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Feb. 23, 2013
LYNCHBURG, Va. - The Penn State baseball team took on Liberty Saturday afternoon, falling 4-1 in the first of a three-game set. The Nittany Lions (1-3) outhit the Flames (2-2) 9-6 without a single error, but could not overcome a late momentum surge from Liberty in the seventh inning.
Matt Marsh earned the win for the Flames, striking out four in three innings, while allowing three hits without an earned run. The senior entered the game amidst the sixth inning, relieving starter Carson Herndon before Liberty went on its scoring streak. Herndon saw 5.1 innings of action, striking out three while walking three, and allowing six hits with one earned run.
Penn State began the contest on a promising note, striking first with a run from freshman James Coates (Girard, Ohio). With Coates on second and sophomore J.C. Coban (Boca Raton, Fla.) on first, sophomore J.J. White (Lansdowne, Va.) stepped up with a hard single up the middle to bat in the rookie left fielder.
With a 1-0 lead, the Lions' defense would hold the Flames without a hit for the next three innings, including a tough double play from sophomore Taylor Skerpon (Sayre, Pa.), senior Luis Montesinos (Miami, Fla.) and White in the bottom of the second. Starting pitcher Dave Walkling (Nanaimo, B.C.) would strikeout senior Justin Sizemore to end the inning.
Liberty went on to tie the game in the bottom of the fourth, with the Flames' offensive campaign beginning with redshirt junior Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) making a remarkable diving catch on Nick Paxton for the first out. After a single to left field from Alex Close, junior Danny Grauer doubled to right center to bring home Bryan Aanderud from second. With the score resting at 1-1, Walkling struck out Sizemore to end the inning and quiet Liberty's bats.
After two quick innings, Marsh was able to shut down the Lions in the top of the seventh, despite Coban advancing all the way to third on an outfield error. As the Flames returned to the plate, it seemed that Grauer would be the second consecutive strikeout for redshirt senior Cody Lewis (Laguna Niguel, Calif.). However, a wild pitch allowed the designated hitter to reach first base, followed by a single to left field from Sizemore. Bases were loaded as Dalton Britt was walked, and a double from senior Trey Wimmer would give the Flames a 3-1 lead. Wimmer earned two RBIs with Grauer and Sizemore scoring.
With freshman Jack Anderson (Evanston, Ill.) taking the mound for the Lions, Penn State was able to tally one more out as Dalton Sype grounded out to Skerpon. Liberty would extend its lead to 4-1, though, with Paxton recording a base hit to bat in Britt from third. The inning would end with Ryan Cordell flying out to Snyder.
Anderson and the Lion defense held off the Flames in the bottom of the eighth, with three quick outs for Aanderud, Close and Grauer. Needing to step up in the top of the ninth, Snyder singled up the right line on one out, followed by a solid hit to center field from Skerpon. However, Liberty pitchers Robert Gray and Ashton Perritt combined for two strikeouts to end the game, giving the Flames a 4-1 victory.
Walkling saw six innings of action for the Lions, recording four strikeouts with three hits and only one earned run. Lewis struck out two with two hits and three earned runs, while Anderson held Liberty to one hit in 1.2 innings. White earned the sole RBI for Penn State, with Snyder leading the team in hits for the day with three.
The Lions will battle the Flames again tomorrow, kicking off a doubleheader at noon. The first game will be nine-innings, while a seven-inning contest will follow. Both games can be followed via GameTracker.
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