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May 5, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Posting its third walk-off victory of the season on Sunday afternoon, the Penn State baseball team took down Minnesota 4-3 in the 10th inning of the conference series finale. The Nittany Lions move to an overall record of 12-30 on the season with a 3-15 mark in the Big Ten, while the Gophers now sit at 28-15 and 11-4.
Following fending off the Gophers in the top of the 10th with the bases loaded, redshirt junior Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) led off the bottom of the inning with his 46th hit of the season, and would move to second on the next play as Minnesota's Billy Soule walked redshirt senior Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.). Sophomore Taylor Skerpon (Sayre, Pa.) eventually stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded, following senior Luis Montesinos (Miami, Fla.) laying down a bunt for a fielder's choice. Skerpon then ripped the ball to second baseman Connor Schaefbauer, tearing down the line to reach first base and beat a 4-3 double play as Snyder crossed home plate. The sophomore's game-winning RBI was his 18th of the season, giving Penn State the 4-3 walk-off victory.
Earning his second win of the season, senior Neal Herring (West Chester, Pa.) helped back the Lions' offense with a scoreless, 2.2-inning outing. Herring held the Gophers to just two hits to close the game, moving to a 2-0 record on the season and improving to a 4.50 ERA. Senior Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas) made the start for Penn State, throwing 6.0 innings with just five hits and three earned runs allowed. The veteran fired 98 pitches and struck out one before he was relieved by freshman Nick Hedge (Winnetka, Ill.), who held the Gophers hitless during his 1.1 inning performance.
Soule suffered the loss for Minnesota, moving to a 0-3 record after allowing one hit and one earned run in 1.2 innings. Starter D.J. Snelten had a strong showing for the Gophers, firing 8.0 innings with seven hits and two earned runs allowed. Snelten walked four and struck out seven before Soule came in to close.
Minnesota got on the board first, with Ryan Abrahamson reaching on a fielder's choice to drive in Kurt Schlangen from third in the top of the first. Although Montesinos ripped the ball through the left side for his 150th career hit in the bottom of the inning, Penn State would not answer until the bottom of the third. Following an infield base hit from Searer, Montesinos hammered the ball to the left field corner for his sixth double of the season to drive in his senior counterpart. Searer's run, his 18th of the season, would knot the score at 1-1.
Despite the Lions keeping the momentum by posting their first of three double plays in the top of the fifth, the Gophers went on to steal back the lead in the sixth inning. Dan Olinger set things off with a double to left field, and crossed home plate following designated hitter Mark Tatera ripping a triple up the right field line. Tatera would then move the score to 3-1 moments later, with Matt Halloran knocking a double to the left field wall to bat in the redshirt sophomore.
With the Lions determined to keep the Gophers from gaining an edge, sophomore J.C. Coban (Boca Raton, Fla.) led off the bottom of the sixth with a hard-hit single up the middle. Freshman James Coates (Girard, Ohio) would eventually come to the plate with Coban on second and Skerpon on first, laying down a bunt to reach first. Coates' base hit would draw an infield throwing error, allowing Coban to advance home and move Skerpon to third. The sophomore would score moments later on a 4-3 Minnesota double play, setting the score at 3-3 heading into the seventh.
Both squads would remain hitless until the bottom of the ninth, with Coates collecting his third hit of the contest. However, it would be Minnesota holding a potential game-winning situation in the top of the 10th, loading the bases with no outs. As Olinger reached on a fielder's choice, Montesinos made a swift throw to Coban with Schlangen called out at home. The Lions followed up with 6-3 double play as Alex LaShomb came to the plate, shutting down the Gophers' bats and holding the score to 3-3. Skerpon's fielder's choice RBI would end the contest moments later in the bottom of the inning, giving Penn State the extra-inning, Big Ten victory.
The Lions return to action on Tuesday, May 7 when the squad travels to Akron for a 3 p.m., non-conference contest. Penn State will then travel to Illinois on Friday, May 10 for a weekend series for the final road trip of the regular season.
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