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April 24, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State baseball team pulled out a wild 10-9 victory over Ohio State during a back-and-forth Big Ten battle as the Nittany Lions capitalized on a pair of three-run rallies to capture the series finale from the Buckeyes on a cloudy Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
During the game, Penn State (24-13, 7-5 Big Ten) scored in bursts as the squad plated at least two runs in four separate innings while taking two-of-three from Ohio State (16-18, 6-6). Joey DeBernardis led the offense as he filled out the box score with another sensational day at the plate. The junior first baseman went 3-for-3 with three RBI, three runs scored, and a pair of doubles. Bobby Jacobs also continued his comeback tour with two RBI, while Sean Deegan scored twice.
The victory moves Penn State into a tie for first place in the Big Ten standings. The Lions share the lead with Michigan State and Purdue, while five teams, including Ohio State, sit a game back at 6-6.
After the Buckeyes overcame an early two-run deficit and knotted the game in the top of the fourth, both teams began to light up the scoreboard at a hectic pace. Ohio State took its first lead of the contest with a three-run surge in the top of the fifth, highlighted by RBI singles from Tim Wetzel and Ryan Cypret.
Trailing for the first time all day, Penn State responded in kind with its own three-run surge. Although Ohio State put away the first two batters, DeBernardis fired a single to left before Jordan Steranka worked a walk. With two on, Jacobs and Alex Farkes roped back-to-back RBI singles to pull the squad within one. Later, following a pitching change, Luis Montesinos was drilled to load the bases. One batter later, Michael Glantz was plunked as well to chase in the tying run.
Even at five, the Buckeyes quickly broke the deadlock in the sixth. After a leadoff double put Penn State in a tough position, Wetzel added his second RBI of the game with a sacrifice fly to center.
Staring at another deficit, the Lions duplicated their fifth-inning feat as the squad fired three more runs on the board in the sixth. Blake Lynd and Deegan started the surge with back-to-back singles before DeBernardis blasted his league-leading 20th double of the season off the leftfield fence, which chased in the first run.
With two runners in scoring position, Jacobs brought home Deegan after lifting a sacrifice fly to center. Leading by one, Mario Eramo came in to pinch hit with two outs. On a 1-1 count, he drilled a laser to first. After the ball skipped off the dirt, the Ohio State first baseman tried to barehand the ball, but it shot away and allowed DeBernardis to score from third.
Grasping an 8-6 advantage, Penn State could not stop the seesaw battle as Ohio State evened the score again despite an incredible effort by Montesinos. For the second straight game, he made a sensational play up the middle. With a runner on second, Brad Hallberg lined a shot towards center. After the ball took a high hop, Montesinos laid out and snagged the rocket in his out-stretched glove. Rather than just conceding an infield single, he quickly collected himself and fired a fastball to first to nail the batter by a stride.
Although the defensive gem momentarily halted the Buckeye rally, Ohio State was not down for long. David Corna poked an RBI single to third before Tyler Engle picked up a clutch two-out double that brought in Corna and knotted the game at eight.
As they would all day, the Lions landed a counterpunch in the bottom of the seventh. Following his defensive gem, Montesinos lined a single to center before Glantz reached on a Buckeye miscue. With two on, Ryan Clark loaded the bases after beating out a sacrifice bunt attempt for an infield single. Lynd kept things rolling as he worked a five-pitch walk to bring home Montesinos.
Following a strikeout for the first out of the inning, DeBernardis lofted a high fly into shallow center. On the play, Glantz tagged at third and came barreling down the line. Although the throw beat him by a few strides, he hurdled headfirst over the catcher to avoid contact. Despite initially missing the plate on the incredible dive, he crashed down, regained his footing, and dove back to score the tenth run of the game.
Although Ohio State pieced together a modest response and scored a run for the fifth consecutive inning, Penn State did not relinquish its lead. After Hallberg punched an RBI single up the middle, Corna crushed a blast to left center that appeared destined for the gap. Refusing to let the ball drop, Deegan turned it on and ran full speed to the warning track before reaching up to make a nice game-saving grab.
Still leading by one at 10-9, Geoff Boylston (2-0) remained on the hill to close out the game in the ninth. In his third inning of relief, the freshman southpaw ended the scoring binge as he set down the Buckeyes while earning his second career victory.
During his time on the mound, Boylston allowed just one run while scattering three hits. David Fathalikhani (2-1) took the loss for Ohio State after allowing two runs, but only one earned, during his brief appearance on the hill.
Over three hours before the final out was recorded, Mike Franklin made his first weekend start of the season for Penn State. He cruised through the first three innings as the lefty faced the minimum in the first, struck out a pair in the second, and sent another Buckeye down in the third.
With their starter doing his job, the Lions also looked strong out of the gate offensively as the hosts plated a pair in the first. Deegan kicked things off with a one-out walk before DeBernardis crushed an RBI double to right center, which chased in the first run. Later, Steranka brought in the second after roping a single to center.
Following his outstanding work in the first three innings, Franklin hit a minor rough patch in the fourth. After back-to-back hits put a pair of Buckeyes in scoring position, Hallberg notched an RBI groundout before Corna picked up a sacrifice fly, which knotted the game at two.
After that point, the two teams tied the game again at 5-5 and 8-8 before Penn State got the last laugh and landed the final blow in the bottom of the seventh. With the victory, the Lions captured their third Big Ten series of the season heading into a crucial match-up with Michigan State next weekend.
Penn State will return to action on Tuesday when the Nittany Lions host La Salle at 6:05 p.m.