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May 18, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - On Thursday afternoon, it was senior Jordan Steranka. On Friday, it was senior Joey DeBernardis' (Lake Zurich, Ill.) turn. In the top of ninth with the ballgame tied at five, Michigan State called for their closer Tony Wieber, who had not allowed a homer all season. DeBernardis ripped a fastball over the left field fence to give the Nittany Lions a huge 6-5 victory.
With the victory, Penn State still remains in a tie for second place in the Big Ten standings. With Indiana defeating Ohio State today, the Nittany Lions will need a victory and an Indiana loss tomorrow to clinch a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
Junior Cody Lewis (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) pitched a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win. Junior Dave Walkling (Nainamo, Canada) picked up the save for the fifth-straight game. Walkling extends his scoreless innings streak to 11.1 innings. In the top of the first inning, Penn State would put a two spot up. With two outs, Steranka singled to creep closer to the school hits record. After advancing to third on a failed pickoff attempt, Steranka scored on an RBI single by JJ White (Lansdowne, Va.). DeBernardis, who walked after Steranka reached base, scored on a bases loaded walk to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
Michigan State would creep closer in the fifth inning. Ryan Krill led off the inning with a homerun of junior starting pitcher Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas). Hill was very solid, going six innings of six-hit ball while allowing just one run.
Penn State increased its lead in the top of the sixth. The Lions would produce the runs in yet another situation where there were two outs and nobody on base. Junior Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.), who had a 2-for-3 game at the plate, singled to set things up for senior Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.). Deegan rocked a ball to the right centerfield woods, a two-run homer to give the Lions a 4-1 lead.
Hill would exit the game after six and the Spartans got to the Nittany Lion bullpen quickly. Michigan State would string together four runs and five hits to take a 5-4 lead. That would be all the offense the Spartans would get on the day. Penn State rallied and came back for the 16th time this season.
Sophomore Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) delivered one of the big hits in the top of the eighth inning, a leadoff double down the left field line. Later in the inning with one out, Snyder stole third to set things up for Searer. The junior shortstop hit a sacrifice fly to centerfield, scoring Snyder to tie the game up at five.
Lewis was phenomenal in the bottom half of the inning, as he kept the game in check at five. Tony Wieber, arguably the best closer in the Big Ten, was called upon to shut the Nittany Lions down in the ninth. Wieber had not given up a homerun this year until he threw a one-out, 1-0 pitch to DeBernardis. The senior scorched it over the right field fence to put the Nittany Lions up 6-5 heading into the bottom of the ninth.
The untouchable Walkling struggled as he attempted to knock down his fifth-straight save in as many games. The first two Michigan State batters reached base on a single and a walk. After the runners were sacrificed over, Walkling faced Scanlon of Michigan State. Scanlon ripped a ball right back at Walkling. The runner at third decided to make an attempt for home, but Walkling threw him out for the second out of the inning. Ryan Krill then lined out to Snyder to give Walkling his seventh save of the season. The junior has now thrown 11.1 straight scoreless innings.
Penn State now turns to Saturday's game with the Spartans at noon. Junior John Walter (Haddonfield, N.J.) will make the start on the mound for the Lions. Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.