Penn State Bats Ignite as Nittany Lions Baseball Topples Hawkeyes, 8-6
May 9, 2009
IOWA CITY - The Penn State baseball team hammered a pair of back-to-back home runs in consecutive innings as the Nittany Lions ended an eight-game conference losing streak in an 8-6 victory over Iowa on Friday.
Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) knocked two home runs and manufactured three RBIs on as many hits. Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.), Mike Deese (Roswell, Ga.) and Rick Marlin (Orlando, Fla.) each hit a round tripper as the Nittany Lions nearly doubled their highest home run total of the season. Coming into the series opener in Iowa City, Penn State was last in the Big Ten with just 10 dingers.
Ryan Ignas (North Wales, Pa.) claimed his fourth victory of the season with a two-inning outing in which he allowed one earned run. Ignas came in to relief for T.J. Macy (Scottsdale, Ariz.), who struck out six in four innings of work. David Lutz (West Chester, Pa.) picked up his second save of the season with a scoreless ninth, leaving the winning run at the plate.
Deese had two hits for the Nittany Lions - a home run and a double. Deese, who was sidelined with a rib injury for the past nine games, scored two runs. Marlin reached three times, going 2-for-3 with two runs and an RBI. Ryan Boonie (State College, Pa.) also had two hits.
After the Hawkeyes rallied from three down to tie the game at five apiece in the fifth, the Nittany Lions responded with two runs in the sixth inning and held Iowa scoreless for three strong to hold on for the win.
Heath and Marlin clobbered back-to-back home runs in the second inning to give the Nittany Lions an early 3-1 lead. Deese doubled down the left line to make way for Heath's two-run jack to right-center field. Marlin followed suite with a solo shot for the Penn State's first pair of consecutive home runs this season.
In the Nittany Lions' next at-bats, Steranka and Deese hammered another set of consecutive long balls to make it four round trippers in three innings, and Penn State held a 5-2 lead.
Iowa chipped away at the head coach Robbie Wine's squad with a run in each of the first five innings. The Hawkeyes forced an early call to the bullpen as Macy rang up 87 pitches through four innings of work. Iowa tied the game in the fifth as Mike McQuillan led the frame off with a solo homer to make it a stalemate between the two clubs. Ignas ended the threat when he initiated a groundball double play with the go-ahead run in scoring position.
Penn State wasted no time retaining its lead as it posted two in the sixth. With one out on the board, Heath set fly to his second home run of the game. Marlin tagged a double to centerfield and scored the Lions' seventh run when Landon Nakata singled him home.
The Penn State bullpen did an excellent job holding the advantage. In both the sixth and seventh, Iowa had early-inning doubles stranded on base as Ignas and Jesse Alfreno (Grove City, Pa.) kept Hawkeye hitters at bay.
Iowa made a run in the ninth inning with a lead-off single that brought lefty specialist Lutz into the game. With two outs and runners at the corners, Lutz pitched Chett Zeise into a groundout to third baseman Steranka to end the game.
Penn State looks to add another victory to the winning column on Saturday when it takes on Iowa at 2 p.m. Eastern Time.