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PITTSBURGH – Penn State loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning but West Virginia hung on for a 4-2 victory in non-conference baseball action Wednesday night in PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
West Virginia (28-20) scored a run each in four consecutive innings starting in the second inning, and was able to snap its four-game losing streak against Penn State (15-33). The Nittany Lions scored in the fourth and eighth innings and outhit the Mountaineers 10-7, but stranded 10 base runners.
Catcher Ryan Sloniger (Punxsutawney, Pa.) and third baseman Christian Helsel (Altoona, Pa.) drove in the Nittany Lion runs, and Helsel joined centerfielder Mason Nadeau (Lansdale, Pa.) and catcher Willie Burger (Lancaster, Pa,) with two-hit games.
Catcher Chase Illig paced the West Virginia offense with an RBI-single and double. RHP Braden Zarbinsky (4) earned the save, getting the Mountaineers out of trouble in the eighth. He struck out three over the final 1 2/3 innings and only yielded a walk. RHP Cody Wood (2-0) earned the win with 3 1/3 innings of relief, allowing one run on five hits with one strikeout.
Trailing 4-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, left fielder Nick Riotto (Washington, Pa.) and Burger hit back-to-back one out doubles, and Helsel followed with a double down the left line to score Riotto. Zarbinsky took the mound and walked one with two outs but did not allow any more base runners.
For Penn State on the mound, freshman RHP Myles Gayman (Greencastle, Pa.) pitched a career-high four innings in the start, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks with one strikeout. Pittsburgh-native Taylor Lehman worked the fifth in relief, allowing a run, and RHP Nick Distasio (Oley, Pa.) kept the Nittany Lions in the game, allowing just one hit and striking out four over 3 2/3 in relief. RHP Dakota Forsyth (Bethel Park, Pa.) got the final out.
West Virginia built a 3-0 lead with a run each in the second, third and fourth innings. Illig singled to right in the second for the game’s first run, and Zarbinsky grounded out to score second baseman Kyle Gray after he led the third off with a triple to right. Illig struck again in the fourth with an RBI-double.
The Nittany Lions scored their first run in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI-single through the right side by Sloniger. Helsel scored on the play from second as he and Burger had singled in the previous two at-bats. West Virginia was able to restore its three-run lead in the top of the fifth though with a sacrifice fly from third baseman Cole Austin.
Penn State scored in the eighth for the final margin.
Penn State will next open a three-game series at Indiana Friday at 6:05 p.m.
Just four home games remain for the Nittany Lions. Tickets can be purchased at GoPSUsports.com or by calling the Medlar Field at Lubrano Park ticket office at 814-272-1711.
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