Hill Shines as Penn State Tops Le Moyne, 6-2
March 26, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Sophomore ace Steven Hill struck out seven during a complete game effort as he helped the Penn State baseball team even its series with Le Moyne after the Nittany Lions posted a 6-2 victory on a chilly Saturday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
During his sensational start, Hill (2-1) scattered five hits and two runs while tossing his first nine-inning complete game of the year. Economical on the mound, he just barely eclipsed the 100-pitch plateau while not issuing a free pass for the third time this season.
Mario Eramo provided the offensive support during the game, going 2-for-3 with two RBI and a run scored for Penn State (13-7). Joey DeBernardis and Sean Deegan also roped a pair of hits and knocked in a run, while Blake Lynd went 2-for-3 as well.
Following the same script as Friday, Penn State vaulted out to an early lead against Le Moyne (5-15) as the squad plated a pair in the bottom of the first. Luis Montesinos kicked off the surge with a single up the middle before Jordan Steranka worked a one-out walk. DeBernardis followed by drilling an RBI base hit to right, and one batter later, Eramo cranked a sacrifice fly to deep centerfield that chased in the second run.
Leading by a pair, Hill settled in and looked sharp on the mound. He struck out two in the first and retired the side in order again in the second before Le Moyne squeaked out a run in the third. During the rally, Don Schaaf dunked a double to left before Pat Wiese drove a two-out single to center that just eluded a diving Deegan to cut the deficit in half.
With their lead in jeopardy, the Nittany Lions responded in the bottom of the inning. DeBernardis ripped a single through the left side of the infield and quickly swiped second to move into scoring position. Eramo came through next by blasting a line drive to the right side of the infield, which ricocheted off the out-stretched glove of the first baseman and gave DeBernardis time to circle the bases for the Nittany Lions' third run.
Back in control, Hill struck out a pair in the fourth and received a great play from Steranka to close out the inning. On a light tapper down the third base line, Steranka charged, made a great stab, and threw an off-balanced strike across the diamond to cut down the batter by a stride.
Continuing his exceptional work on the mound, Hill retired the side in order in the fifth and sixth during a string of nine straight put away by the sophomore right-hander. During that stretch, the Lion lineup also tacked two more on the board in the bottom of the sixth on a pair of RBI singles by Bobby Jacobs and Deegan that put the hosts up 5-1.
Although Le Moyne finally snapped its skid in the top of the seventh after Ryan Mahoney tripled and Schaaf chased him in with a single, Penn State responded immediately in the bottom of the inning when the Dolphin defense hit a rough patch. With one out, DeBernardis launched a high fly ball to right that was misplayed and allowed the junior first baseman to cruise into third on the three-base error. He quickly scored on another miscue as a pitch squirted away from the catcher and allowed DeBernardis to score easily.
Leading 6-2 entering the final two innings of play, Hill made sure the Dolphins never had a chance to fight their way back into the game. He retired the side quickly in the eighth, and for the sixth time during the game, he sent the Dolphins down in order in the ninth to seal the victory.
The outing marked the fifth time this season that Hill went at least six innings and allowed two runs or less. It also was his second complete game effort after tossing a seven-inning gem against Norfolk State in the second game of a doubleheader on March 12.
Derek Zielinski (1-2) suffered the loss for Le Moyne after allowing five runs on eight hits in five innings of work. After the Dolphins went to the bullpen, the squad received a strong effort from reliever Jeff Tardiff, who looked sharp while holding the Lions to just one unearned run over his three innings on the mound.
The two teams will conclude their three-game series on Sunday at 12:05 p.m. Following that contest, the Nittany Lions will return to the field after a short intermission to battle Albany for a unique non-conference doubleheader.