Steranka's Walk-Off Single Caps Five-Run Ninth to Lift Nittany Lions Past Michigan, 6-5
May 21, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Trailing by four runs heading into the bottom of the ninth and down to the game's final strike, sophomore Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) capped a furious five-run Penn State rally with a two-run walk-off single for a dramatic 6-5 victory over Michigan on Friday evening at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Penn State's (22-29, 9-14 Big Ten) sixth win in walk-off fashion eliminated any hopes the Wolverines (33-20, 13-10 Big Ten) had of winning the Big Ten Regular Season Title. The teams will close the series and regular season on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. on Senior Day.
"That's one of those spots you love to be in," said Steranka. "[A situation] you dream about when you're a kid. We had a great comeback, played some good defense, good pitching. I was fortunate to get a hit."
"It shows a lot from us that we didn't give up when we were down 5-1 in the ninth," said sophomore Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.), who hit a huge double as part of the comeback. "It's big for the seniors to get a nice win like this, especially against a team like Michigan."
Despite the victory, the Nittany Lions were eliminated from postseason contention due to scores in other league games.
The Wolverine pitching staff held the Nittany Lions in check for much of the evening, but the Lion bats came alive in the five-run ninth inning rally. Trailing 5-1, junior Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) led off the inning with line drive single up the middle. Sophomore Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) then tallied his second hit of the night with a single to right-center. One batter later, Mario Eramo (Houston, Texas) was hit by a pitch to load the bases with none out.
Junior Michael Glantz (Marietta, Ga.) provided the first big hit of the inning with a sharply hit single through the left side of the infield. Heath and DeBernardis scored on the play to cut the Michigan advantage to 5-3. One batter later, Deegan notched a ground-rule double to center, scoring Eramo to slice Michigan's lead to 5-4.
Senior Louie Picconi (North Merrick, N.Y.) then earned a walk to re-load the bases, still with no outs. After Michigan reliever Brandon Sinnery retired the next two hitters, the stage was set for Steranka. The sophomore answered the bell with a game-winning line drive single up the middle, scoring Deegan and pinch-runner Jesse Alfreno (Grove City, Pa.) to the delight of an enthusiastic home crowd.
DeBernardis, Deegan, Glantz and Steranka led the way at the plate with two-hits apiece. Juniors Heath and Bobby Jacobs (West Chester, Pa.) also tallied hits.
The early stages of the game turned into a pitcher's duel between Nittany Lion freshman Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas) and Michigan lefty Bobby Brosnahan. They each tossed five scoreless innings to open the game. Both hurlers found a nice rhythm, making scoring opportunities few and far between until the sixth.
Hill turned in one of his best outings of the season, going seven strong, allowing three earned runs on 10 hits while striking out three. Senior David Lutz (West Chester, Pa.) entered with two on in the eighth, yielding one earned run. DeBernardis and redshirt sophomore Drew Irsfeld (Eugene, Ore.) combined for one inning of relief work with Irsfeld earning his first-career victory.
The game would remain scoreless until the top of the sixth inning when the Wolverines mustered a single tally. A Chris Berset double ignited Michigan's first run as he would eventually score on a Mike Dufek sacrifice fly.
After Hill tossed a scoreless top half of the seventh, Penn State mounted a two-out rally in the home half to knot the score at 1-1. Jacobs kick-started the two-out rally with a single to right field. Glantz then reached on an error to put two men on. A wild pitched moved the runners to second and third with Deegan at the plate. The sophomore proceeded with an RBI infield single to tie the score at 1-1.
The Wolverines answered Penn State's run with three of their own in the top of the eighth. Michigan put two men on against Hill before Lutz came on in relief. With the bases loaded, Dufek tallied a two-run single to make it 3-1. One batter later, Nick Urban executed a suicide squeeze to perfection, which handed Michigan a 4-1 advantage.
Michigan added another run in the ninth to make it 5-1, but the Nittany Lions did not go away quietly, staging the big comeback to snap a six-game losing skid.
The Lions and Wolverines will meet in the series and season finale on Saturday at 1:05 p.m. It is senior day with Gordon Atkisson, Jack Greenberg, David Lutz, Louie Picconi, Mike Wanamaker and Sebastian Saraceno all set to be honored prior to the game. Purchase your tickets today!
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