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May 12, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball (26-24, 12-8) picked up its sixth win in its last seven Big Ten games and clinched its fifth-straight conference series, defeating the Illinois Fighting Illini by a score of 8-6 on Saturday afternoon.
Penn State hit four homeruns, upping its season total to 18 at Medlar Field. The Nittany Lions pitching staff have allowed none to its opponents at home. Senior Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) drilled two homers and drove in five runs. Seniors Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) and Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) added the other Nittany Lion homers. The senior class accounted for all eight runs driven in today.
Illinois had a big first inning, as it had three-straight hits to start things off which led to three runs off Penn State starter Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas). Nevertheless, Steranka's solo homer came in the bottom of the second to give the Nittany Lions some momentum.
With Penn State trailing 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth, DeBernardis hit a two-run homer to the right field Picnic Pavilion to tie the game up at three. Sophomore Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) reached base earlier in the inning on a three-base error.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Nittany Lions would retake the lead. With two outs and nobody on, junior Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) fell behind in the count 0-2. Searer fouled off two pitches and then looked at four-straight balls to give the Lions a runner with two outs. Deegan took care of business from there, knocking a two-run homer of the right centerfield wall to give the Lions a 5-3 lead.
The Fighting Illini would add one in the sixth and then two in the seventh to retake the lead. Hill's day was done and sophomore Evan Dixon (Waynesboro, Pa.) came in to relieve Hill. Dixon was credited with the victory, his first of the season.
With the Illini leading 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh, sophomore Alex Farkes (Boston, Mass.) and Searer hit back-to-back singles, which set up Deegan. The senior rocked a 1-1 pitch to the same spot where he hit his earlier homer. The home run for Deegan was his tenth of the season and the game winner.
Sunday's noon start will be Senior Day and Penn State Baseball's first Pink Zone game. Six Penn State players will be honored prior to first pitch. In addition, all players will be wearing pink wristbands for breast cancer awareness. Fans in attendance will receive those Penn State pink wristbands while supplies last.
Sunday's noon game will air live on the Big Ten Network. Additionally, it can be heard on ESPN Radio 1450 State College with Loren Crispell and Brian Tripp calling the action. Live stats will be available via a Gametracker link on GoPSUSports.com. In addition, fans can follow @psubaseball on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.
Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.