Penn State Sweeps Doubleheader from Norfolk State, 5-1 and 12-1
March 12, 2011
NORFOLK, Va. - Sean Deegan and Jordan Steranka combined for 12 hits and seven runs scored as the two standouts helped lead the Penn State baseball team to a pair of wins during a doubleheader against Norfolk State as the Nittany Lions posted a 5-1 victory in the opener before recording a 12-1 win in the nightcap on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Marty L. Miller Field.
Deegan and Steranka both went 6-for-8 during the twin bill, while Deegan added five runs scored and an inside-the-park home run. Steranka chipped in with three RBI and a pair of runs scored as well.
With the victory, Penn State (9-4) increased its winning streak to five games, which marks the team's longest since a six-game roll from March 15-25, 2008.
In the opener, the Nittany Lions got off on the right foot after plating a pair in the top of the first against Norfolk State (5-9). Deegan led off with a single before Luis Montesinos worked a walk. Steranka followed with an RBI single to center, while Joey DeBernardis launched a double down the leftfield line, which chased in Montesinos and gave the squad a quick 2-0 lead.
In the bottom of the inning, the Spartans tried to respond and put their first two runners on base, but Heath Johnson worked out of the jam. Following a pop fly to left, he induced a phenomenal inning-ending double play. Brandon Hairston lined a shot up the middle, but Johnson dropped to his knees and smothered the ball while nearly impersonating a goalie. After regrouping, he fired a strike to second that started a 1-6-3 twin killing.
After avoiding any damage, Penn State tossed another run on the board in the top of the second. Following back-to-back singles by Michael Glantz and Deegan, Steranka came through again after smacking an RBI single through the right side of the infield.
With an early three-run lead, Johnson silenced the Spartan attack. Although Norfolk State continued to put runners on base, the PSU ace worked out of the jams. Eventually, he extended his scoreless inning streak to 11.2 frames before reliever Greg Welsh was summoned from the bullpen in the fourth.
After the Lions added another insurance run in the top of the fourth on another RBI hit by Steranka, the Spartans nearly responded in the bottom of the inning. The hosts put their first two runners on base before Welsh entered the game and settled in nicely. In a tight spot, he quickly sent the next three batters down swinging to avoid any harm.
Although Norfolk State finally cracked the scoreboard with a run in the fifth, their efforts were all for naught. Penn State answered with a run in the top of the seventh after Montesinos knocked in Deegan to give the squad a 5-1 cushion before Welsh closed out the game with a quick inning in the bottom half of the frame to seal the victory.
For his efforts, Welsh (1-0) picked up his first win of the season after striking out six while scattering five hits over four innings of work. Ryan Shook (1-3) suffered the loss after allowing four runs in five innings while striking out nine.
Riding a wave of momentum from the first game, the Nittany Lions went right back at it in the nightcap. In the top of the first, the squad loaded the bases with no outs. Mario Eramo followed with a two-run single to center before Ryan Clark added an RBI ground out to give Penn State an early 3-0 advantage.
Just as they had in the first game, the Nittany Lions never let up after grabbing the early lead. In the third, PSU tallied two more runs after Steranka doubled, DeBernardis singled, and both men came around on a costly Norfolk State miscue.
Staring squarely at a five-run deficit, the Spartans chipped away in the third after plating an unearned run that cut Penn State's lead down to four. Despite the modest rally, the Lions remained unfazed and exploded in the final two innings of play to complete the doubleheader sweep.
In the top of the sixth, Deegan provided the game's finest highlight after crushing a shot to right. The ball hit high off the double-stacked fence and ricocheted away from the Spartan outfielders. With a full head of steam and a steady gallop, Deegan raced around the base paths and eventually slid into the plate with an inside-the-park home run.
Clutching to a 6-1 advantage, PSU starter Steven Hill never allowed Norfolk State into the game. Following his only blemish in the third, the sophomore right-hander settled down and cruised from there. He induced a key double play in the fourth, escaped a minor jam in the fifth, and struck out two in the sixth to keep the Spartans at bay.
Already holding a commanding lead, the Nittany Lions put the game completely out of reach with one last outburst in the seventh. Eramo kicked off the rally with a double before Clark and Alex Farkes worked walks to load the bases. Elliot Searer followed with a two-run single before Deegan punched a base hit down the leftfield line that reloaded the bases.
After providing a defensive highlight in the bottom of the sixth when he made a bare-handed snag on a high chopper up the middle, Montesinos showed off his offensive skills as well after blasting a two-run double to right center that brought in Farkes and Searer. Following a pitching change, DeBernardis capped off the seventh-inning surge with his own double that plated a pair and gave the team a 12-1 lead.
With all the run support he could ever ask for, Hill (1-1) returned to the mound in the bottom of the seventh and finished off the gem for his first career complete game. He eventually ended the contest with five strikeouts while scattering six hits and one unearned run.
Ryan VanAssche (2-1) took the loss for the Spartans after allowing five runs, but only one earned, over four innings on the mound.
The two teams will conclude their series tomorrow with another doubleheader beginning at noon.