Penn State Baseball Rolls Past Pittsburgh, 10-3
May 11, 2011
PITTSBURGH, Pa. - The Penn State baseball team grabbed its first lead of the day with a key three-run rally in the fifth and quickly put the game out of reach with a four-run surge in the seventh as the Nittany Lions topped intrastate rival Pittsburgh, 10-3, on a sweltering Wednesday evening at Charles L. Cost Field.
Sean Deegan led the 11-hit attack as the junior standout went 3-for-3 with three runs scored and a pair of walks. Returning to his hometown, Jordan Steranka also put on a show as the Pittsburgh native knocked in four runs, including a key three-run home run that capped off the scoring in the seventh. Zach Ell, making a spot start in rightfield, also tallied two hits, scored twice, and made a sensational sliding grab in the outfield.
With the victory, Penn State (28-18) moved back to 10 games over .500 and swept its season series from Pittsburgh (28-19).
Although Pitt struck first with a run in the bottom of the second, starter Tim Dunn benefited from a pair of early double plays to limit the damage before his offense evened the score. After Ell beat out an infield single to leadoff the third, Penn State loaded the bases with one out when Blake Lynd was plunked by a pitch and Deegan drew a five-pitch walk.
Not willing to come away empty-handed, Joey DeBernardis rolled a ball down the third base line, which allowed Ell to sprint home with the tying run.
Knotted at one, both teams were retired in order during their next trip to the plate before Kevan Smith broke the deadlock for the Panthers in the fourth. The former Pitt quarterback fired a 1-0 offering over the 375-foot mark on the double-stacked fence in left to give the hosts another lead at 2-1.
Staring at a modest deficit, Penn State immediately responded in the top of the fifth. Once again, Ell was at the heart of the rally as the freshman rightfielder smoked a base hit up the middle to start the inning. Later, following a sacrifice bunt, Ell made a great heads-up play to avoid a tag on a groundball by Lynd, which put runners on the corners.
Refusing to face one of the hottest hitters in the Big Ten, Pitt intentionally walked Deegan to load the bases with one out. Finding himself at the plate in another key situation, DeBernardis came through again as the junior first baseman clubbed a two-run single to left, which gave the Nittany Lions their first lead of the day.
With a chance to continue the rally, Steranka greeted a new Pittsburgh pitcher with an RBI single through the right side of the infield, which brought in Deegan and gave the squad a 4-2 advantage.
Although Pitt made the game interesting with a run in the bottom of the sixth aided by a one-out triple from John Schultz, Penn State quickly shot back and broke the game open with a key four-run surge in the top of the seventh.
Lynd scored the first run of the inning based purely on his devastating speed. After beating out an infield single to third, he was off and running on a single by Deegan. Sprinting around the base paths in a full gallop, he looked destined for third base, but after a bobble in right, he continued cruising right on home to open the rally.
Two batters later, after DeBernardis roped the team's third straight single, Steranka dug in with a pair of runners on base. On an 0-1 pitch, the junior third baseman got a hold of a fastball on the outer black and muscled it the other way. Blasting the ball on a rope to left, he had enough power to shoot it well over the 16-foot wall for his seventh home run of the season.
Holding an 8-3 advantage, the Penn State bullpen had to escape a few jams in the latter innings but the defense continued to shine. Elliot Searer made a nice snag on a line drive up the middle before doubling off a runner at first to help end the seventh. One inning later, the Lions flipped their season-best sixth double play after Luis Montesinos corralled a roller to start a 4-6-3 twin killing.
With one final rally, Penn State tossed two more runs on the board in the top of the ninth to reach double-digits for the seventh time this season. Following a leadoff single by Deegan, the Lions took advantage of some wildness to bring in the final two runs. After walks to DeBernardis and Montesinos loaded the bases, Mario Eramo and Ell picked up free passes as well to cap the scoring.
Dunn (2-0) earned the victory after scattering two runs on four hits in five innings of work. Matt Wotherspoon (5-1) suffered his first loss of the season after allowing four runs on four hits in 4.1 innings of work.
Penn State will return to action on Friday at 6:35 p.m. when the Nittany Lions kick off a crucial three-game series with Minnesota.