Baseball Falls to Northwestern in Series Opener, 11-5
April 9, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite holding a 5-3 lead after six full innings, Northwestern exploded for two runs in the seventh and six more in the eighth to spoil Penn State's Big Ten home opener, 11-5, on Friday evening at a chilly Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Redshirt senior Mike Wanamaker (Upper Nyack, N.Y.) made his fifth start of the season, throwing the first 5.1 innings while allowing three runs and striking out four. Sophomore Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) had the big blow, a three-run home run in the third to put the Lions on top. The teams meet in game two of the series on Saturday at 2:05 p.m.
Junior Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) and sophomore Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) led the Nittany Lions' (12-16, 1-3 Big Ten) offensive effort, going 3-4 and 2-4, respectively. Heath's three hits tied a career-high while improving his average to .364. He also upped his career-high hitting streak to 15 games, tied for the 14th longest in school history. Heath drove in a run while Steranka's long ball provided the other three RBI for the Lions.
Sophomore Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.), junior Mario Eramo (Houston, Texas), redshirt freshman Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) and freshman Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) all recorded a hit as well. DeBernardis has now reached base safely in 19 straight games while Searer's ninth-inning single improved his hitting streak to nine.
Freshman Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas) came on in relief of Wanamaker in the sixth, throwing two innings while allowing two earned runs and striking out one. Redshirt senior David Lutz (West Chester, Pa.) appeared in his sixth consecutive game and eighth of the last nine contests. Freshman Erik Rumberger (Allen, Texas) did impress as well in tossing a scoreless ninth inning.
The Nittany Lions opened the scoring in the bottom of the first inning. After Searer reached on an error, Heath quickly extended his hitting streak with a double down the third base line to score Searer and put Penn State up 1-0.
Northwestern was quick to respond however, scoring a run of its own in the top of the second. Chris Lashmet opened the inning with a single up the middle, just out of the reach of Lions' shortstop Louie Picconi (North Merrick, N.Y.). Lashmet then stole second and advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt. Colby Everett followed with a single to left field to score Lashmet from third and make it 1-1.
After a two-run third inning for the Wildcats, the Nittany Lions answered right back in the bottom of the frame. Snyder singled to right field and Deegan followed with a single of his own. After a Searer sacrifice bunt, it was Steranka going deep to the right field bleachers for a three-run home run, his sixth of the season to give Penn State a 4-3 advantage.
The Lions put their defensive skills on display in the top of the fourth as Wanamaker opened the inning with his second strikeout of the game and after a Northwestern single, a stellar Picconi effort sparked a 6-4-3 double play, bringing the Lions up to bat. Junior Bobby Jacobs (West Chester, Pa.) walked to open the inning and after a Picconi strikeout and Snyder fly out, Deegan singled up the third base line to move Jacobs to second. Searer followed with a blooper down the first base line that was bobbled and eventually dropped by Wildcat first baseman Paul Snieder. Jacobs crossed the plate on the error to put the Lions up 5-3.
After two scoreless innings, the Wildcats answered in the top of the seventh. With one out in the inning, Northwestern registered four straight singles, scoring two runs to even the score at five apiece.
Wildcats' relief pitcher David Jensen struck out the side in the bottom of the seventh to bring Northwestern right back to the plate in the top of the eighth. Five singles, one double, one wild pitch and a Penn State error later, the Lions suddenly found themselves down 11-5. That is where the score would stand, as the Jensen held Penn State scoreless in the game's final two frames.
The Nittany Lions continue their homestand with two more games against Northwestern this weekend. The teams meet again at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday and 1:05 p.m. on Sunday. Purchase your tickets today!
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