DeBernardis Helps Penn State Sweep Doubleheader
March 27, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Junior first baseman Joey DeBernardis knocked in five runs and scored three times while helping lead the Penn State baseball team to a dominating performance on a frigid Sunday afternoon as the Nittany Lions swept a unique non-conference doubleheader with a 10-3 victory over Le Moyne in the opener and a 6-4 win against Albany in the nightcap at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
During the two games, DeBernardis went 5-for-6 with two doubles and three runs scored. Jordan Steranka also recorded four hits and scored five times, while Bobby Jacobs knocked in four to lead Penn State (15-7).
The afternoon was also highlighted by some strong pitching performances as John Walter fired six innings of shutout ball in the opener before three relievers combined to toss 5.2 spotless frames out of the bullpen in the second game. Geoff Boylston led the way with 3.1 scoreless innings of relief on the way to his first career victory.
Keeping with what worked in Saturday's contest, Penn State continued its early game rallies with a three-run surge in the bottom of the first against Le Moyne (5-17). After Walter struck out the side in the top of the inning, the offense supported his efforts with a quick outburst in the bottom half. Following a leadoff double by Sean Deegan to deep centerfield, Steranka drove him in with a triple into the gap in right center. Later, after a walk to DeBernardis, Mario Eramo laced a rocket through the wickets of the Le Moyne shortstop that allowed both runners to score.
Holding a 3-0 lead, Penn State continued its onslaught in the second. During the rally, Michael Glantz worked a leadoff walk and moved to second after Luis Montesinos lined a base hit through the right side. Two batters later, DeBernardis fired a single to center that plated Glantz and gave the team a four-run advantage.
With decent run support, Walter continued to hold the Dolphins hitless in the early going. After striking out a pair in the third, he benefited from two outstanding defensive plays to keep his gem in tact. In the fourth, with a runner on first, Deegan tracked a ball that appeared destined for the left centerfield gap and laid out to make a phenomenal diving grab on a tailing liner. One inning later, Walter helped his own cause with a great grab on a high hopper back up the middle. He needed every inch of his 6-5 frame as he fully extended and snagged the chopper before firing a strike to first.
Although Le Moyne broke up the no-hit bid with a dunker to left in the fifth, Penn State never relented and continued to build upon its lead. DeBernardis added his second RBI of the game with a double down the leftfield line in the fourth before the squad broke the game open in the sixth. Montesinos, Steranka, and DeBernardis opened the frame with three straight singles, which chased in the first run of the rally. Following a walk to Eramo that loaded the bases, Jacobs slammed a two-run single to center that extended the lead to eight. Gaston Escudero came through next and capped off the rally nicely by lining his first career hit to center that drove in Eramo and gave the team a 9-0 lead.
Following a three-run Dolphin rally in the top of the seventh that cut the Lions' lead down to six, Penn State struck one last time in the bottom of the inning to close out the rout. The Lions loaded the bases after Steranka worked a walk, DeBernardis was hit by a pitch, and Zach Ell punched his first career hit up the middle. Later, Jacobs drew his own free pass to chase in the 10th and final run of the game.
Eventually, Penn State called upon senior southpaw Mike Pierce to close out the contest. Making his longest appearance of the season, he tossed 2.1 innings of scoreless ball while striking out three and allowing just one hit. His efforts helped seal the victory for Walter (2-3), who allowed just one hit and no runs during six strong innings. He also tied his season high with seven strikeouts.
In the nightcap against Albany (5-12), the Nittany Lions fell behind early after the Great Danes plated an unearned run in the top of the first. Unimpressed by the early run, the Penn State offense quickly fired a two-spot on the board without the benefit of a hit. Deegan started the inning by reaching on a two-base error, advancing on a ground out, and scoring on a wild pitch. Later, Steranka advanced all the way to third on a failed pickoff attempt before coming around on a sacrifice fly by DeBernardis.
Trailing by one, Albany eventually fought back to briefly take the lead in the top of the third when Pete DiResta notched a two-run double. Facing their second deficit of the afternoon, the Nittany Lions were not down for long. Steranka quickly gave the squad a 4-3 advantage after ripping a two-run single to right. DeBernardis followed with a crushing double to right center that brought in Steranka before Jacobs blasted an RBI single to left that capped the scoring and gave the team a 6-3 lead.
Although Albany was able to plate a run in the fourth on an RBI single by Ralph Rizzo, the Penn State bullpen was called into action and quickly closed the door. After being summoned from the pen, Boylston worked out of the fourth-inning jam and dominated from there. The freshman allowed a leadoff base runner in the fifth but retired the next seven straight. Unfortunately, while cruising through the Albany order, Boylston's day was prematurely ended after a frightening moment during which he could not avoid a hard-hit line drive back up the middle. Despite the incident, Boylston eventually went back on the hill and fired a few warm-up pitches before walking off the field under his own power.
Following the scare, Penn State quickly settled back in as Greg Welsh finished out the frame before Ryan Ignas took the ball in the eighth. During his two innings on the mound, the junior right-hander did not surrender a hit while keeping the Great Danes off the scoreboard. For his performance, he earned his team-leading third save of the season.
Deservedly, Boylston (1-0) earned his first career victory after tossing 3.1 scoreless innings. In four appearances this season, he has now fired 7.2 spotless frames. Zach Kraham (0-3) took the loss for Albany after surrendering four runs on four hits in 3.1 innings of work.
Penn State will return to action on Wednesday when the Lions hit the road for a 3 p.m. battle with Kent State in Ohio.