Penn State Baseball Falls to Kent State, 7-6
April 5, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After falling behind in the early going, the Penn State baseball team showed great resiliency and used a five-run fifth inning to erase its deficit but Kent State came through in the end as the Golden Flashes upended the Nittany Lions, 7-6, on a frigid Tuesday evening at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Mario Eramo highlighted the Penn State rally after blasting a two-run shot, which marked his fourth home run of the season. Jordan Steranka also continued his torrid streak, going 2-for-4 with two RBI and a run scored for the Nittany Lions (17-9).
After firing three scoreless innings at Kent State (16-10) last weekend before snow wiped out the rest of the game, freshman southpaw Greg Welsh took the hill again against the Golden Flashes. This time, KSU struck early as the squad capitalized on a pair of Penn State miscues to plate an unearned run in the top of the first.
Two innings later, Kent State tacked another run on the board on an RBI single by David Lyon before the Nittany Lions responded. In the bottom of the third, Michael Glantz blasted a two-out double off the warning track in left center. Steranka came through next after firing a double to right that chased in Glantz and cut Penn State's deficit in half.
With their lead being challenged, the Golden Flashes responded immediately. In the top of the fourth, the squad loaded the bases before cleanup hitter Ben Klafczynski stepped to the plate. Hitting over .400 entering the game, the senior rightfielder continued his strong season with a line drive shot to right center that cleared the fence for a grand slam.
Staring at an imposing 6-1 deficit, Penn State answered the bell. After reliever Neal Herring retired KSU in order for the first time all game in the top of the fifth, the Nittany Lions came storming back in the bottom half. Ryan Clark roped a single up the middle before Glantz drew a two-out walk. Steranka followed with a base hit to right that brought in Clark for the first run of the inning.
With runners on the corners, Steranka moved into scoring position on a wild pitch. On the play, the Kent State catcher attempted to gun down the Lion third baseman, but the throw caught Steranka in the helmet and ricocheted into center. With the ball loose on the field, both runners advanced an extra base as Glantz strolled home while Steranka continued on to third.
With another run just 90-feet away, Joey DeBernardis crushed his league-leading 15th double of the season to deep centerfield, which pulled Penn State within two. One batter later, after working the count to his favor, Eramo jumped on a pitch and drilled a two-run blast to right center, which knotted the game at six.
Tied for the first time since the eighth pitch of the ballgame, Penn State called upon freshman reliever Geoff Boylston to keep the game close. Making his first appearance in over a week, Boylston showed no signs of rust as he mowed down all six batters he faced to keep the game deadlocked entering the top of the eighth.
Unfortunately, following another pitching change, Kent State clawed back. Following a one-out walk to Evan Campbell, Roberts quickly fired a double to center that broke the tie and gave the visitors a 7-6 advantage.
After going down in order in the eighth, Penn State put up a good fight in the ninth. Elliot Searer led off the frame with a single up the middle before Sean Deegan worked a walk. Despite the rally, KSU closer Kyle McMillen settled down and retired the next three hitters to close out the victory on the way to his fifth save of the season.
Dan Slavik (1-0) earned the victory after striking out three over 1.2 spotless frames out of the bullpen. Scott Dixon (0-1) took the loss after allowing one run on one hit during his lone inning on the mound.
Penn State will return to action on Friday when the squad heads to Northwestern for a 4 p.m. ET showdown with the Wildcats.