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Feb. 27, 2010
CLEARWATER, Fla. - One day after staging a dramatic extra inning win, the Penn State baseball team continued its heroics Saturday, coming back to top Seton Hall, 3-2 in 13 innings at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. The Nittany Lions trailed heading into the bottom of the eighth until junior Heath Johnson (Alamagordo, N.M.) drove in the tying run with a sacrifice fly. That set the stage for junior Mario Eramo (Houston, Texas), who provided Penn State's second walk-off single in as many days.
"You prepare yourself for spots like this all the time," said Eramo. "We knew [their pitcher] was only throwing fastballs. I was thinking fastball, got my pitch and hit it up the middle."
The game was pushed back to 1 p.m. from its original 10 a.m. start time due to rain in the area that forced significant schedule shifting throughout the entire Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge.
"These guys don't give up," said head coach Robbie Wine when speaking about his squad. "They play defense and play inning-to-inning, pitch-to-pitch. That's what we preach. Next thing you know, you're walking out with a couple big wins."
Like in the season-opener against Cincinnati, the Nittany Lions trailed into the later innings against Seton Hall. They tied the score in the ninth on Friday, but did so one inning earlier against the Pirates. Freshman Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) sparked the rally with a single, advanced to second on a Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) groundout and advanced to third on a wild pitch. Johnson followed with a sacrifice fly to center field to tie the score at two.
The pitchers rolled in extra innings - freshman John Walter (Haddonfield, N.J.) and junior Jesse Alfreno (Grove City, Pa.) for the Lions across from Seton Hall's Henry Warner. Penn State finally broke the deadlock in the 13th when Steranka swatted a leadoff double. The next two batters were retired, but Eramo came through with a clutch hit up the middle to score Steranka all the way from second for the 3-2 final.
Penn State got on the board quickly with a run only three batters in. Johnson tripled to deep left field and scored on Steranka's RBI groundout for the 1-0 advantage.
Freshman Neal Herring (West Chester, Pa.) stood tall on the mound in his first collegiate appearance, tossing six strong innings while only allowing seven hits and two runs with two strikeouts. Seton Hall touched him for a run in the third when Chris Fontenelli walked and was sacrificed to second before scoring on a Will Walsh single.
The Pirates took the lead in the fifth, with Fontenelli once again in the middle of the action. This time he walked, advanced to second on a Bobby Abreu single and crossed the plate following A.J. Rusbarsky's base knock.
The Lions' relief staff didn't allow a run while only allowing four hits in seven innings. Leading the way was redshirt senior David Lutz (West Chester, Pa.) who tossed three scoreless frames. Walter and Alfreno followed with two apiece with Alfreno earning the victory.
Steranka (2-for-6) and junior Michael Glantz (2-for-4) each posted two hits while six other Lions had at least one base knock.
"Starting the season out with this team chemistry, winning two extra inning game, is big," said Steranka. "It will help us in the long run."
Penn State looks for a perfect showing at the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge as it faces Notre Dame on Sunday at 10 a.m. at Namoili Complex. GameTracker is expected to be available while fans can listen live (Notre Dame's broadcast). Also, be sure to follow all the action through the Penn State baseball twitter page.
Season and individual game tickets are now available can be purchased online or over the phone. Please call 1-877-997-7453 or (814) 272-1711, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. for more information. Fans can also direct any additional questions or comments via phone, or by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Baseball camp information is now available. Call the Sports Camp Office at (814) 865-0561 or email them at SportCampInfo@outreach.psu.edu for more information.
Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.