Nittany Lions Split Doubleheader with Norfolk State
March 13, 2011
NORFOLK, Va. - Dave Walkling flirted with history in the second game of Sunday's doubleheader as he tossed 5.1 innings of no-hit ball while guiding the Penn State baseball team to a split against Norfolk State as the Nittany Lions rebounded from a 4-2 setback in the opener to grab a 5-0 victory in the nightcap at Marty L. Miller Field.
In the second game of the twin bill, Walkling was simply dominant on the mound. Over six solid innings, he struck out a career-high 11 batters while allowing only a sixth-inning teardrop single during a masterful gem.
Led by his performance, Penn State (10-5) took three of four from Norfolk State (6-10) and capped off its 10-day spring break road trip with seven wins in nine contests.
After dropping the first game, PSU gave Walkling all the run support he needed in the third inning of the nightcap. With two down, Jordan Steranka drilled a line-drive solo blast to right center that cleared the 392-sign and eventually landed on the street well beyond the fence.
With a lead, Walkling cruised on the mound. He struck out the side in the third and sent two more down in the fourth. While flirting with history, he also received a strong play from Elliot Searer at shortstop. The sophomore ranged into the hole and made a back-hand stab before throwing across the diamond to help retire the side in the fourth.
In the fifth, Penn State gave Walkling a little extra run support after tossing two more on the board. Searer opened the inning with a single up the middle before Sean Deegan reached on a dropped fly. With two on, Luis Montesinos laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move both runners into scoring position. Steranka followed by crushing a double to right center that chased in both runs and gave the squad a 3-0 advantage.
With even more breathing room, Walkling never let up. He sent three down swinging in the bottom of the fifth and retired the first batter in the sixth before allowing a walk. With one on and one down, John Lynch stepped to the plate looking to break up history. On a 2-2 count, he fought off a tough pitch and popped the ball into shallow leftfield. Despite their best efforts, the Nittany Lions count not quite get there in time as the ball dropped for the first hit of the game.
Refusing to let a minor setback ruin an otherwise outstanding effort, Walkling quickly induced an inning-ending double play to retire the side.
Heading into the final inning of play, Penn State fired two more runs on board after Searer tripled, Montesinos singled, and Joey DeBernardis drilled a two-run double that landed just inside the leftfield line and chased in both runners.
Following his performance in the first six innings, Walkling eventually handed the ball off to reliever Geoff Boylston, who quickly closed out the victory.
For his efforts, Walkling (4-0) earned his fourth win of the season, which ties him for the national lead. Justin Bhatti (0-3) took the loss for Norfolk State after allowing three runs on seven hits in 4.1 innings on the mound.
In support of Walkling, Steranka was the offensive player of the game, going 2-for-4 with three RBI. Searer also added three hits and scored twice in the nightcap.
Earlier in the day, the Nittany Lions got off to a strong start in the opener. In the first game of the doubleheader, PSU opened the scoring in the second inning. DeBernardis lofted a double to right that found open spaces to start the rally. Mario Eramo came up next and crushed a blast off the top of the rightfield fence that chased in the first run. Later, after Eramo picked up his first of three stolen bases in the game, he came home on a single by Michael Glantz.
After PSU starter John Walter looked strong through the first two innings, he labored a bit during the next two. Norfolk State cut its deficit in half in the third after John Lynch punched a single up the middle that brought in Cameron Parsons. One inning later, the hosts grabbed their first lead of the series with a huge rally in the fourth.
During the surge, NSU loaded the bases following a Nittany Lion miscue and back-to-back bunt singles by Ryan Montgomery and Tyon Ore. Sammy Serafine came through next after working a bases-loaded walk before TiQuan Griffin knocked in a run with a single to right and a wild pitch brought in a third to give the Spartans a 4-2 advantage.
With the squad's first lead, Norfolk State called upon Jordan Egan to close out the game, and the sophomore right-hander was more than up to the challenge. He struck out one in the fifth, retired the side in order in the sixth, and sent a pair down in the seventh to seal the come-from-behind victory.
Richie Salter (1-0) earned the win for Norfolk State, while Egan picked up the save after striking out four over three pristine innings on the hill. Walter (1-3) took the loss despite allowing only two earned runs in his 3.1 innings of work.
Penn State will return to action on Friday at 7:30 p.m. when the squad heads to Kansas for a three-game series with No. 19 Wichita State.