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May 13, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball (27-24, 13-8) completed a weekend sweep with a 3-2 victory over the Illinois Fighting Illini on Sunday afternoon. With the win, Penn State currently sits in a tie for second place in the Big Ten with the Indiana Hoosiers. If the Hoosiers were to lose to Northwestern today (3 p.m. ET), the Nittany Lions would sit in sole possession of second.
In a fitting way, the seniors accounted for all three runs that were scored in the Senior Day contest. Senior Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) led the way with three hits, two of which were doubles and one of those doubles scoring senior Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.). Steranka's double in the seventh inning gave him 459 career total bases, passing Michael Campo for first in the Penn State record books.
DeBernardis and senior Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J) each drove in a run in the seventh inning, which gave the Nittany Lions a 3-1 lead. Junior starting pitcher John Walter (Haddonfield, N.J.) had his best start of the season, going eight innings of two- run ball while striking out eight batters. The junior entered the ninth inning going for the complete game, but junior Dave Walkling (Nanaimo, Canada) came in to pick up his third save of the weekend to help Walter secure the win. Freshman JJ White (Lansdowne, Va.) earned his first three-hit game of his career.
With the game scoreless through the first five innings, Illinois started things in the top of the sixth. The very dangerous Willie Argo led things off with a walk and then reached second on Justin Parr's infield hit. Later in the inning, Jordan Parr singled to score Argo, giving the Illini a 1-0 lead. With runner on first and third and one out, Walter picked off Parr at first base and then struck out Thomas Shelton to escape the jam.
That led to Steranka's big hit in the bottom of the sixth. DeBernardis worked a one-out walk to set things up for the senior first baseman. Steranka ripped a double down that painted the right field line to score DeBernardis and tying the game up at one.
Senior Ryan Ignas (North Wales, Pa.), who missed the 2012 season due to injury, entertained the Medlar Field crowd by beatboxing Take Me Out to the Ball Game in the middle of the seventh inning. The entertainment would continue in the bottom half, as the Nittany Lions put up a two-spot to take the lead. Sophomore Alex Farkes (Boston, Mass.) led off with a walk and junior Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) bunted him over to give the Lions a runner on second with one out. Deegan slapped a double to left centerfield to score Farkes and putting Penn State up 2-1. Then with two outs, DeBernardis singled up the middle to score Deegan and giving the Lions a 3-2 advantage.
Walter worked into the ninth. In the top half, Jordan Parr led off with a double. Walter's great day was done and sophomore Greg Welsh (Holland, Pa.) came in for relief. One would score, and Welsh would exit the game getting one out and leaving runners on first and second. Walkling entered the game and forced a line out and a fly out to pick up his third save of the weekend.
Game Notes: Jordan Steranka's five total bases put him past Michael Campo for first in Penn State history with 459... With three hits today, Steranka trails Michael Campo's school hits record by 10...Steranka's two doubles now gives him 57 for his career, two shy of Chris Wright's 59 for first in Penn State's record book...Dave Walkling has not allowed a run since April 14 and has held opponents scoreless in his last 9.1 of work...Penn State improves to 9-4 in games decided by one run this season...The Nittany Lions sweep against Illinois gives them their first Big Ten series sweep since the 2010 season, when they accomplished the feat at home against Michigan St...Penn State has won five-straight Big Ten series, something that has never happened in the history of the program.
Penn State turns to Villanova on Tuesday before a big series next weekend at Michigan State. The Spartans currently sit one game behind the Nittany Lions in the Big Ten standings.
Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.
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