Heath Ties Home Run Record, Lutz Goes The Distance as Baseball Completes Sweep of Michigan State, 9-1
May 2, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State baseball team wrapped up one of its best weekends in recent memory by topping Michigan State, 9-1, for its fifth straight Big Ten win on Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Junior Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) hit his 16th and 17th home runs of the season to tie the 32-year Penn State (20-23, 7-8 Big Ten) season record while senior David Lutz (West Chester, Pa.) made his first-career start and went the distance for the Lions' first nine-inning complete game since 2008. The squad hosts Iowa next weekend, with all three games broadcast live on the Big Ten Network.
"We're trying to win every inning," said head coach Robbie Wine. "What we've been preaching all year is taking place right now."
The victory gives Penn State its first series sweep of the season while in the process, scoring the most runs in a three-game Big Ten series in school history. The Nittany Lions won the series by a combined score of 49-13 after winning the first two games, 18-7 and 22-5.
With 10 regular season games still remaining, Heath looks to break the single-season school record held by the heavy hitting Dave Simononis back in 1978. The two homer game was his fourth of the season and the fifth of his career. He finished 2-for-3 with an intentional walk and four RBI, reaching base 12 times in 16 plate appearances against the Spartans (28-14, 7-8 Big Ten) this weekend.
"I try not to [think about the record]," said Heath. "I'm a pretty laid back guy and try not to think about it. I just go out and play game-to-game."
With sophomore pitcher Ryan Ignas (North Wales, Pa.) held back for precautionary measures, Lutz earned the start, allowing only one run on nine hits in the Lions' first nine-inning complete game since current senior Mike Wanamaker (Upper Nyack, N.Y.) went nine in the 2008 Big Ten Tournament against Indiana. This came in Lutz's 29th appearance of the year to tie the Penn State single-season record.
"I was a little surprised," said Lutz when asked his reaction to getting the start. "I thought about it a little in the morning. [The coaches] didn't say anything until an hour before the game. That was their idea [because] they didn't want me to think about it."
Freshman Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) continued his hot play, racking up three more hits (in four at-bats). He finished the series 10-for-15 with a walk and is now hitting .600 (18-for-30) over his last six games since being placed in the No. 2 slot.
Sophomore Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) also had a big day, going 2-for-3 with a double, RBI and two runs scored. All nine Nittany Lions hitters chipped in with at least one base knock.
One of Lutz's toughest inning came right off the bat in the first when Brandon Eckerle and Torsten Boss reached base with none out. Lutz then induced Jonathan Roof to hit into a 6-4-3 double play and Jeff Holm to pop to first, ending the threat.
Both Lutz and Michigan State starter Tony Bucciferro, who also went the distance, breezed through the first three innings, but it was Heath who would get the scoring started in the fourth. After a Steranka one-out single, Heath hit a liner down the left field line that just got over the wall to give Penn State a 2-0 advantage. Ironically enough, it marked the Lions' first home run of the weekend after combining for 40 runs over the first two games.
Sophomore Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) followed with a single and then scored when junior Mario Eramo (Houston, Texas) hit his eighth home run of the season to deep right-center field, doubling the lead at 4-0.
With the bases loaded in the top of the fifth, Roof responded with a sacrifice fly to center field that brought in Jordan Keur to make it 4-1.
In the bottom of the inning, Penn State came right back with base hits by redshirt freshman Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) and Snyder. A sacrifice fly by Steranka scored Picconi while Heath smashed his second two run home run of the game to left field, bringing in Snyder to give Penn State a 7-1 advantage.
Both pitchers tossed zeroes in the sixth and seventh until the Nittany Lions tacked on two more in the eighth for a 9-1 lead. Steranka led off with a double to right field, then Heath was intentionally walked to put runners on first and second. Steranka later scored on junior Michael Glantz's (Marietta, Ga.) two-out RBI single while Heath crossed the plate on senior Louie Picconi's (North Merrick, N.Y.) sharp RBI single.
Penn State returns to Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Friday in the series opener against the Iowa Hawkeyes. First pitch is slated for 7 p.m. The Big Ten Network will broadcast the whole weekend's action, along with Saturday (4 p.m.) and Sunday (11 a.m.). Purchase your tickets today!
Season and individual game tickets are now available can be purchased online or over the phone. Please call 1-877-997-7453 or (814) 272-1711, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. for more information. Fans can also direct any additional questions or comments via phone, or by email (email@example.com).
Baseball camp information is now available. Call the Sports Camp Office at (814) 865-0561 or email them at SportCampInfo@outreach.psu.edu for more information.
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