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March 8, 2011
NORFOLK, Va. - Bobby Jacobs knocked in the tying run in the ninth and the game-winner in the 11th to lift the Penn State baseball team past Old Dominion, 6-1, during a thrilling extra inning contest at the Bud Metheny Complex on a frigid Tuesday afternoon.
Jacobs was the game's offensive hero, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored. His performance backed an outstanding day by three Nittany Lion hurlers. Starter Dave Walkling and relievers Geoff Boylston and Ryan Ignas combined to strike out a season-high 11 batters while scattering seven hits and one run over 11 innings.
After winning just three road games during the 2010 campaign, Penn State (6-4) captured its fourth of the season and the third during its current road swing. The squad also won a pair of neutral site games during the BIG EAST/Big Ten Challenge to open the year.
In addition to Jacobs, the Nittany Lions benefited from a well-rounded offensive performance against ODU (7-6). Luis Montesinos went 2-for-6 with a pair of RBI, while Joey DeBernardis and Elliot Searer both added two hits as well.
After struggling to find its footing early in the game, the Penn State lineup broke through when it mattered in the top of the ninth. Trailing by one, DeBernardis dropped a one-out shot just inside the leftfield line that eventually hopped the fence for a ground-rule double. Mario Eramo came up next and quickly moved him over with a single to right.
With the tying run on third, Jacobs came through in the clutch. The senior catcher flipped the ball towards the right side of the infield, which allowed DeBernardis to score the tying run and eventually send the game to extras.
After earning a second chance with the ninth-inning run, Penn State took advantage. On the mound, Ignas continued to shut down the Monarch offense, inducing an inning-ending double play in the ninth before retiring the side in order in the 10th. Later, the offense did its work in the top of the 11th.
The same trio that helped vault the team into extra innings with a run in the ninth returned to do more damage in the 11th. DeBernardis kicked off the rally with a single and advanced to second when Eramo worked a walk. Jacobs came through next, blasting an RBI single to left center on a 1-2 count that gave Penn State its first lead of the day.
Refusing to let up, Michael Glantz knocked in the second run of the inning with an RBI fielder's choice before Sean Deegan chased in Jacobs with a ground out. With two down and a 4-1 lead, Montesinos landed the final blow with a crucial two-run double to left that gave the squad a commanding five-run edge.
Holding a 6-1 advantage, Ignas closed out the game. Although the Monarchs collected back-to-back singles, Penn State eventually flipped a 6-4-3 double play that clinched the come-from-behind victory.
Ignas (2-1) earned the win following a sensational effort out of the bullpen. The junior standout struck out two and allowed just three hits over 4.2 scoreless innings. Erick Baker (0-1) took the loss for ODU after surrendering a pair of runs in his one inning on the mound.
Although Ignas earned the win, his performance was just the last one in a series of strong efforts by the Lion pitchers. Early in the game, Walkling, who entered Tuesday tied for the national lead with three victories, looked strong in his first start with PSU. In three innings on the hill, the junior right-hander struck out five and scattered just two hits while holding the Monarchs scoreless.
Despite Walkling's efforts in the early going, the Penn State lineup could not crack the scoreboard. Searer led off the third with a double but was eventually caught stealing. Two innings later, Glantz singled, stole second, and advanced to third on a throwing error but was eventually left stranded just 90-feet from home.
While Penn State was still trying to find its footing, the Old Dominion offense came alive in the bottom of the fourth after a Lion pitching change. Chris Baker punched a one-out single to center and advanced to second on a PSU miscue. One batter later, the Monarchs opened the scoring after Joey Burney lined a single to center that plated Baker and gave the hosts a 1-0 advantage.
After surrendering the unearned run, Boylston was a force on the mound and kept the Nittany Lions within striking distance. Making just his second career appearance, the freshman southpaw struck out four and allowed just two hits over 3.1 innings. He was sensational in the fifth and sixth, facing the minimum in both frames while whiffing three straight batters at one point.
While the pitching staff dominated, Penn State continued to put runners on base but could not quite bring them around. The Lions got a pair on in the sixth and later pieced together their first true threat in the seventh. Searer opened the inning with a single before Blake Lynd beat out a bunt hit to the mound.
With two on and nobody down, Deegan ripped a bullet off reliever Ben Verlander, who is the younger brother of former ODU ace and current major league All-Star Justin Verlander. Unfortunately for Penn State, Old Dominion first baseman Chris Baker was well positioned and made a great snag on the shot down the line before touching the bag for a quick double play that all but ended the rally.
Despite coming away empty-handed, Penn State never conceded. Showing true grit, the squad continued to battle and eventually came through in the clutch to pull out the victory.
The two teams will conclude their midweek set tomorrow at 3 p.m. before Penn State heads across town for a four-game series with Norfolk State beginning on Friday.
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