Deegan's Walk-Off Blast Downs Buckeyes, 8-7
April 29, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State senior Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) was due, and did he ever deliver. With two outs in the bottom of the 10th , runners on second and third and the Nittany Lions trailing by two runs, Deegan hammered a towering shot over the right centerfield wall to give Penn State an 8-7 victory over the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Ohio State, who rallied to tie the game at five and force extra innings, put up a two-spot in the top of the tenth inning. The Nittany Lions had the challenge of facing one of the top closers in the conference in the hard-throwing Josh Dezse. Junior Luis Montesinos (Miami, Fla.), who had a great day at the plate going 2-for-4 with two RBI, led off the bottom of the 10th with a strikeout. Sophomore Zach Ell (Plains, Pa.) grounded to second as the Lions had two outs and trailed 7-5.
With its chances being slim, Penn State put together its most memorable two-out rally in years. Freshman catcher JC Coban (Boca Raton, Fla.) who was badly injured in the top of the 10th and remained tough with an injured ankle, forced a two-out walk. Freshman Taylor Skerpon (Sayre, Pa.) came in to pinch run for Coban. Maybe the most significant plate appearance came from junior Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.). The shortstop faced a 1-2 count with two outs and looked at three straight balls to bring the tying run in Deegan to the plate.
On the first pitch, a passed ball moved Skerpon and Searer over a base. With the lead runner at third and the tying run at second, Deegan took a 1-1 pitch and crushed it over the 375 ft. fence in right centerfield. The homer was the sixth of the season for Deegan.
With the victory, Penn State (22-22, 8-7) reaches the .500 mark for the first time this season after starting the year 3-14 overall. A season-high 1,935 fans attended Sunday's extra-inning contest.
The three hour and 15 minute game saw run production from the very beginning. In the bottom of the first, sophomore Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) and senior Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) reached on base hits as the Lions had runners on first and third. A sacrifice fly by senior Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) scored Snyder and a throwing error on freshman Aaron Novak's (Ambler, Pa.) at-bat scored DeBernardis. Penn State had a 2-0 lead at that point in the game. DeBernardis went 3-for-5 on the day with two runs scored.
The Buckeyes responded in the top of the second. With runners on first and third, Kirby Pellant hit an RBI single to cut the Penn State lead to 2-1. Ohio State would then tie the game up at two on a bases loaded walk. After the tough second inning, junior starting pitcher John Walter (Haddonfield, N.J.) really settled down. Walter stuck out seven batters in 5.1 innings of work. In addition, he only allowed four hits and just the two runs in the second.
The Nittany Lions tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the third. DeBernardis singled, Steranka walked and Novak had an infield single to load the bases. Montesinos slapped a single down the right field line to score two, putting the Lions up by two. Freshman JJ White (Lansdowne, Va.) hit into a double play, but Novak would score to give Penn State a 5-2 advantage through three.
The bats for the Nittany Lions would quiet down for the next chunk of the game. Ohio State would respond in the bottom of the eighth with a three-spot to tie things up. Senior Mike Franklin (Harleysville, Pa.) pitched a strong 1.2 innings of relief and exited the game after the seventh inning. Penn State went through four pitchers in the eighth and turned to sophomore Greg Welsh (Holland, Pa.). With three runs already in, Welsh came in and stuck out Mike Carroll to strand the go-ahead run at second base.
Welsh remained in the game and was asked to keep everything in check after appearing on the mound earlier in the series on Friday. Welsh shut the door on the Buckeyes in the ninth, but would run into a little bit of trouble in the 10th. Penn State did get a big out early in the inning when Searer threw out Greg Solomon at home. Coban made a great play on the collision at home and suffered an ankle injury, but remained in the game. Ohio State would load the bases later on and scored two runs on a walk and an error. The Buckeyes took a 7-5 lead into the bottom of the 10th.
Deegan's 10th inning heroics puts the Nittany Lions at 8-7 overall in Big Ten play and a potentially a four-way tie for third, depending on the result of the Michigan-Indiana game this evening. Penn State heads to Minnesota for a big three-game series this upcoming weekend. Friday and Sunday's game will be played at the Metrodome and Saturday's contest will be played at Target Field.
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