Lions Rally From Five-Run Deficit to Tie Game But Fall in Bottom of the Ninth
March 15, 2008
Lake Worth, Fla. - Penn State battled back from a five-run deficit by scoring five runs in the top of the ninth inning tie the game 9-9 but Bethune-Cookman scored the winning run of All-American candidate Drew O'Neil in the bottom of the ninth as the Wildcats topped the Nittany Lions 10-9 on Saturday afternoon at Dick Brown Field in Lake Worth, Fla.
The comeback in the ninth let starter Mike Lorentson off the hook for the decision, as he lasted only 2.1 innings and allowed five runs but only two earned as he was victimized by his own throwing error. He allowed just three hits, one of which was a two-run home run, but also walked three and did not strike out any. Seth Whitehill pitched two innings in relief and gave up two runs. Calvin Grumley tossed a career high three innings and struck out a career-high five and kept the Wildcats off the scoreboard for his first two innings of work, even stranding the bases loaded in the sixth. But he gave up two runs in the eighth, which ended up being important insurance runs for Bethune-Cookman, and left having allowed two runs on five hits with two walks.
Offensively for the Nittany Lions, four Penn Staters collected multiple hits while three had multiple RBIs. Brian Ernst led the way by going 3-for-6 with two RBI. Landon Nakata went 2-for-5 and Rob Yodice went 2-for-4 with each scoring two runs. Cory Wine went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBI while Lou Picconi also knocked in two. Bethune-Cookman's Emmanuel Castro went 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBI.
Penn State took advantage of a Bethune-Cookman error to score a pair of unearned runs and take a 2-0 lead in the top of the second. Wes Borden started things by drawing a one-out walk. Then, Rick Marlin bounced a soft roller to short and shortstop Josess Lozada's throw to second went off the foot of a sliding Borden and into short left field, allowing Borden to go to third and he then scored on Grant Youngblood's groundout. Marlin then came around to score on Lou Picconi's single into short right field.
Bethune-Cookman tied the game right back up at 2-2 in the bottom of the second as Emmanuel Castro hit a one-out, two-run home run to left field with a runner on second. It came after the Nittany Lions had thrown out a runner trying to steal third base.
The Wildcats then took advantage of a throwing error by Lorentson to score three unearned runs in the third and take a 5-2 lead. The inning started with Patrick Jones reached on a bunt single back to Lorentson that he was unable to field cleanly. Mark Brooks then tried to sacrifice him over, pushing another bunt back to the pitcher, but Lorentson's throw to second to attempt to force Jones was off target. Lorentson then walked Jose Ortiz to load the bases. He gave up a sacrifice fly to Lozada to score one and after reloading the bases on another walk, was pulled in favor of Ryan Stobart, who gave up another sacrifice fly and then an RBI single to Castro before retiring the side.
Bethune-Cookman manufactured a run in the fourth off Whitehill, as Justin Hoyte drew a leadoff walk, was sacrifice to second, and then after the second out of the inning was made, scored on a double down the left field line by Ortiz.
The Nittany Lions took advantage of a BCU error in the fifth to cut the lead to 6-3 as Nakata single with one out, went to second on a walk to Yodice, then went to third and scored when Joe Blackburn grounded into a fielder's choice with the throw to first getting past the first baseman.
But the Wildcats got the run right back in the bottom of the fifth as after Whitehill struck out the first two hitters of the inning, he gave up a single up the middle to Castro and then an RBI triple to deep right center to Drew Clark.
Doubles by Yodice and Wine sandwiched around the first out of the inning gave the Nittany Lions one more run to make it 7-4 in the seventh but Rick Marlin grounded into an inning-ending double play with runners on first and second to end the threat of any more runs being scored.
In the eighth, Grumley ran into trouble after pitching two scoreless innings as he gave up a leadoff walk to Brooks, who came all the way from first to score on an errant pickoff throw to first that made it all the way down the right field line. It would not matter how he scored, however, as Lozada hit a solo home run one out later to make it 9-4.
Those runs would prove to be crucial for Bethune-Cookman because the Nittany Lions were able to string together three hits and draw three walks as well as take advantage of a BCU error to score five runs in the top of the ninth off three different Wildcat pitchers. With reliever Eric Thomas entering his third inning in relief of starter Hiram Burgos, Nakata and Yodice each singled and Bobby Jacobs, who had entered the game for Blackburn, drew a walk to load the bases. Wine then drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to left. A walk to Wes Borden reloaded the bases but Marlin struck out for the second out of the frame. Lefthander Roman Lancara then came on to pitch to Grant Youngblood but righthander Ryan Boonie pinch hit and send a soft dribbler to short that Lozada charged and fielded but his throw to first was low for an error, allowing Yodice to score and keeping the bases loaded. The third reliever of the inning, Phil Enright entered and issued a walk to Picconi and then Ernst followed with a single to center to tie the game 9-9. Nakata grounded out to first, however, to end the inning, stranding runner on first and second.
O'Neil entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and issued a leadoff walk to Clark. Hoyte then attempted to bunt him over to second but his first bunt rolled foul. With third baseman Borden playing in expected another bunt, Hoyte swung away and bounced a ball over the head of the drawn-in Borden for a single. Jones then laid down another bunt down the third base line, getting it just far enough down the line to be able to beat O'Neil's throw to first, loading the bases. Brooks then delivered the game-winning single through the drawn-in infield, a bleeder through the left side to end the game.
The Nittany Lions will wrap up their spring break trip with a 10:15 a.m. game tomorrow morning against Cornell at the Santaluces Sports Complex in Lantana, Fla.
Notes: The Nittany Lions' 13 hits were the second-most for them this year....Wine has quietly put together an eight-game hitting streak....Ernst now has hits in nine of 12 games this year and multiple-hit games in six....The two hits that made it into the outfield off O'Neil in the ninth were the two balls he was allowed to leave the infield this year, not counting an error that also made into the outfield earlier this year. The run he allowed was also his first earned run allowed this year.