Nittany Lions Battle Rain to Edge Michigan State, 2-1
May 3, 2008
University Park, Pa. - Penn State waited through a two-hour, 45-minute rain delay that came with one out in the bottom of the sixth inning and after the rain delay, Drew O'Neil worked around two walks an induced a game-ending double play ball to pick up the save as the Nittany Lions topped Michigan State 2-1 on Saturday in the scheduled first game of a doubleheader.
The second game of the twinbill was postponed to Sunday due to rain and the teams will now play two games tomorrow beginning at 12:05 p.m. The first game will be a seven-inning contest and that will be followed by a nine-inning contest.
Prior to O'Neil coming on to earn his eighth save of the year, Mike Wanamaker pitched six innings and allowed just five hits and one run to pick up his team-leading fifth win of the year. He struck out four and walked none. Brian Ernst went 3-for-3 with an RBI while Joe Blackburn went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Rob Yodice knocked in the other Penn State run.
After stranding runners on the corners in the second inning, Penn State pushed one across in the third to take a 1-0 lead in the third. Wes Borden led off with a single through the left side, was sacrificed to second by Landon Nakata, went to third on a fly out by Blackburn, and scored on Yodice's single to center. Ernst then knocked a double down the left field line to put runners at second and third but Cory Wine popped out to second to end the inning.
Wanamaker then escaped a major jam in the fourth inning, getting out of a second-and-third, no-outs situation without allowing a run. He gave up a bunt single to Steve Gerstenberger and then a bloop double to Jonathan Roof. But he got the Spartans' best hitter, Chris Roberts, to pop out to short, then struck out Kyle Day on a 3-2 pitch and got Justin Potes to ground out to short on the first pitch to end the threat.
Penn State then picked up an important insurance run in the fifth after the first two outs had been made. Spartan starter Chris Cullen struck out both Borden and Nakata to begin the inning but gave up a single to Blackburn. Yodice then drew a walk and Blackburn stole third. That stolen base would be important as Ernst beat out an infield hit that three fielders converged but none fielded properly near the second base position. Blackburn scored on the play to make it 2-0.
The Spartans made it one-run game again in the sixth as Brandon Doherty beat out a bunt single to third to lead off the inning. He went to second on a wild pitch and later scored on Roberts' single through the left side with two outs.
In the bottom of the sixth, Rick Marlin drew a leadoff walk and was sacrificed to second by Ryan Boonie. At that point, the rains came and the teams did not resume the game for two hours and 45 minutes. When the game did resume, Nolan Moody took over on the mound for the Spartans and needed just one pitch to get the last two outs as Lou Picconi hit a comebacker to the mound and Moody got Marlin in a rundown between second and third. Once Marlin was tagged out, the Spartans were able to throw to second in time to nab Picconi for the inning-ending double play.
In the bottom of the seventh, with a light rain beginning to fall again, O'Neil came on and got the first hitter to ground out. He then gave up back-to-back walks before getting Jeff Holm to bounce into the 4-6-3 game-ending double play and pick up his first save in over two weeks.
Notes: Ernst's three-hit game gave him 219 for his career, moving him past three different former Nittany Lions, including former teammate Lance Thompson (2003-06), and into third place alone on the Penn State career hits list. Second place on the list is Shawn Fagan (1997-00) with 251....Ernst also now has an 11-game hitting streak, tying his career best....O'Neil is now 8-for-8 in save opportunities this year.