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March 8, 2009
LANTANA, Fla. - The Penn State baseball team scored two go-ahead runs in the ninth inning, rallying from a 6-1 deficit in the third to defeat Saint Joseph's 8-7 on Sunday at the Palm Beach Challenge in Lantana, Fla. The Nittany Lions recovered from a rocky third inning by starter Mike Lorentson, in which the Hawks pounded six runs on six hits, to score seven consecutive runs off Saint Joseph's pitching in the nightcap of an intrastate doubleheader.
Wes Borden and Mike Deese supplied the game-winning hits for the Nittany Lions (5-5 overall) in the ninth inning. Borden, who came into the game with two hits in 20 at-bats, had three hits, two stolen bases and scored three runs for Penn State. Deese doubled his career-high for RBIs, batting in four runs on two hits.
Tied at six runs apiece, Louie Picconi opened the ninth inning when he was hit by a pitch and stole second. Borden allowed Picconi to reach home with a liner down the right field line. Borden stole second base to move into scoring poisition. Deese scored Borden with his second hit of the game.
David Lutz pitched three innings of one-hit ball in relief to secure his second win of the season. Lutz gave up one earned run and struck out three batters as part of a bullpen that gave up a solo run in 4 2/3 innings.
Jordan Steranka homered for the first time as a Nittany Lion in a two-hit, two-RBI night.
Penn State continued the success it displayed from the batter's box in the first two games of the Palm Beach Challenge during its first time up to the plate. Borden ignited the offense with a lead-off single to the right side. Grant Youngblood continued his fervent spring with a double to score the first run of the game.
Mike Lorentson started the game well, striking out three batters in the first two innings pitched. Lorentson ran into trouble in the third, which the Hawks scored six runs and batted around the lineup. The senior southpaw gave up three consecutive singles before allowing runs on a single, a fielder's choice, a double to right-center field and the fifth base knock for the Hawks in the third inning.
Dominic Favazza held the Nittany Lions in check during the first half of the contest. Favazza pitched 6 1/3 innings, allowed three earned runs and notched six strikeouts. The Saint Joseph's starter benefited from stellar defensive play, which prevented Penn State from closing the gap early on. Centerfielder Brett Tiagwad made a spectacular over-the-shoulder, warning-track catch on a ball that wafted to the deepest portion of the park. Cook made several stops in the hole to prevent several well-hit grounders into turning into key base hits.
The Nittany Lions found its offense again in the sixth inning, capitalizing on a botched play by second baseman Mike Blahusch with a two-run homerun by Steranka. The freshman third baseman's homer took hold of the steadily wind blowing to left field and sailed into a pile of burgundy-colored mulch in one of the deepest parts of the Santaluces Complex.
After Favazza was lifted following a Landon Nakata single in the seventh, Deese doubled in two runs to close the Hawks' lead to 6-5. Cory Wine tied the game during the next at-bat with a base hit to score Deese.
Lutz scurried a Saint Joe's rally in the seventh after Jesse Alfreno, who pitched an inning and two-thirds of scoreless ball, allowed the first two batters to reach base. Lutz forced a fly ball to center and froze two to take Penn State into the eighth unscathed.
The Hawks made a push to even the score in the ninth inning but came up a run short, due to Lutz's pitching. Blahusch started the frame with a stand-up double down the rightfield-line. A bobble by Steranka led way to St. Joe's first run since the third inning. With a man on first base and one out, Lutz shut the door with a fielder's choice and a grounder to the pitcher, respectively.
The Nittany Lions travel across Alligator Alley to Ft. Myers, Fla. to take on Florida Gulf Coast in a two-game set starting Tuesday.