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April 13, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Ryan Clark roped a key two-run double in the bottom of the sixth to cap off a stellar evening for the Nittany Lion leftfielder as the Penn State baseball team upended intrastate rival Pittsburgh, 5-4, on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Clark finished the game with three hits, including a pair of doubles, to go along with three RBI. He was supported on the offensive end by Jordan Steranka, who went 2-for-4 with an RBI for Penn State (20-10).
Mike Franklin also looked strong on the mound for the Lions as the junior southpaw fired six innings without surrendering an earned run against Pittsburgh (19-12). He also struck out three on the way to his second victory of the season.
The game got off to a great start for PSU as the hosts plated a run in the bottom of the first. Luis Montesinos got the rally going after lining a one-out double just inside the chalk line in right. With a runner in scoring position, Pittsburgh used a dramatic over-shift against Steranka with the shortstop playing on the right side of the infield. Seeing the alignment, Steranka took one the other way and smacked a hit through the left side that allowed Montesinos to circle the bases.
With an early lead, Franklin settled in right away. During his first four innings on the mound, he retired the side in order in the first and never let a runner past second over the next three frames. Later, he picked up some additional run support in the bottom of the fourth to pad his lead.
During the inning, Joey DeBernardis and Mario Eramo led off the frame with back-to-back walks before Alex Farkes reached on a fielder's choice. With runners on the corners, Michael Glantz pushed a perfect bunt to the right just past the pitcher, which allowed DeBernardis to score from third. One batter later, Clark drilled a single back up the middle that chased in Farkes and gave the squad a 3-0 advantage.
Unfortunately, Pittsburgh could not be held down for long. Although Franklin put the Panthers away quickly in the fifth, the visitors broke free in the sixth to knot the game at three.
After Zach Duggan reached on a Nittany Lion miscue, Kevan Smith made Penn State pay for the mistake. On the first pitch he saw, the former Pitt quarterback launched a triple to dead centerfield that plated the first Panther run. David Chester came through next as the imposing first baseman rolled a groundball to short, which allowed Smith to scamper home with the second run of the inning.
Still rallying, Anthony DeFabio and Casey Roche poked back-to-back singles to load the bases with two outs. With no margin for error, Franklin could not quite get the final out as Philip Konieczny worked the count full before drawing a six-pitch walk to force home the tying run.
With the game deadlocked at three, Clark answered the bell. After Eramo was plunked by a pitch and Glantz drew a one-out walk, Clark blasted a double to right center that brought home both runners and gave Penn State just enough breathing room to close out the victory.
Although Pittsburgh cut its deficit in half on a sacrifice fly by Smith in the top of the seventh, the PSU bullpen cruised from there. Neal Herring retired the final six batters he faced, including back-to-back strikeouts in the eighth. Still clutching a one-run lead, the Lions called upon relief ace Ryan Ignas to finish off the game in the ninth.
Painting the corners of the plate with a 90-mph fastball, the junior closer sent the Panthers down quickly to earn his fifth save of the season. Pitt reliever Lucas Ellex (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing two runs on just one hit in his lone inning on the mound.
Penn State will continue its homestand on Friday when the squad begins a three-game series with Big Ten rival Purdue at 6:35 p.m. Fans can enjoy fireworks after the game as part of Blue-White Weekend festivities.