Nittany Lions Open Weekend Tournament With 7-3 Win Over Kent State
March 19, 2010
ROCK HILL, S.C. - Strong pitching from redshirt senior Mike Wanamaker (Upper Nyack, N.Y.) coupled with a balanced offensive attack led the Penn State baseball team to a 7-3 win over Kent State to open the Coca-Cola Classic on Friday. Five Nittany Lions posted multiple hits, led by a 3-for-4 performance from sophomore Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.). Penn State continues tournament play on Saturday with a split doubleheader against Columbia (11 a.m.) and Winthrop (6 p.m.).
"Getting the first win on this road trip is huge," said junior Mario Eramo (Houston, Texas) who finished 2-for-4 with two RBI. "It gets us back on track. We're trying to get things going again, so it's a really good win for the team."
Kent State marks one of five NCAA Tournament teams on the Lions' schedule. The Golden Flashes won the 2009 MAC Tournament Title and finished last season with a 43-17 record.
Wanamaker was strong on the mound, tossing six innings while only allowing five hits and three runs (all earned) with five strikeouts. In the process, he picked up his first win since 2008 as he makes his return from injury.
"It felt great," said Wanamaker when asked the feeling of picking up his first win. "The team looked good and looked loose today," he continued. "It was just fun to get out there."
Redshirt senior David Lutz (West Chester, Pa.) was dominant in relief, throwing three innings of one-hit ball to earn Penn State's first save of the season.
Steranka's three hits led the way, marking his fifth multi-hit game of the season and 27th of his career. Five others finished with a pair of hits - senior Louie Picconi (North Merrick, N.Y.), junior Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.), sophomore Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) and Eramo. Heath had three runs scored and an RBI while DeBernardis and Eramo each drove in two.
"With me, it was just timing the first couple weeks - getting used to seeing the ball outside," said Steranka. "I'm just getting my timing down the last couple weekends, so it felt good today."
Penn State got on the board quickly with a pair of runs in the top of the first inning for a 2-0 advantage. Picconi hit a one-out single to left field and later scored on Heath's double to right. Heath then scored on DeBernardis' single to left.
The Golden Flashes responded with a run in the bottom of the first to cut the lead to 2-1. Jared Humphreys led off the inning with a double and scored on Jimmy Rider's single.
After both pitchers settled down, Kent State scored a pair in the bottom of the fourth to take its first lead of the game. Anthony Gallas' long two-run home run to left field made it 3-2.
The Nittany Lions responded with a pair of their own in the top of the sixth to retake a 4-3 advantage. DeBernardis tied the score at three with a double to right-center field to plate Steranka. Eramo followed with a sharp single to right, scoring Heath.
Sophomore Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) drove in Penn State's fifth run in the eighth inning with a bloop single to score Eramo and make it 5-3.
Penn State scratched across two more runs in the ninth to open up a 7-3 advantage. Eramo drove in his second run of the game with a sacrifice fly to center to plate Steranka. Redshirt freshman Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) later drove a single to left to score Heath and give the Lions a four-run advantage.
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