Nittany Lions Travel to Kent State on Wednesday
March 29, 2011
KENT, Ohio - The Penn State baseball team will hit the road for a short trip to Ohio when the Nittany Lions take on Kent State during a midweek game at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Schoonover Stadium.
Unflappable in the early going, the Nittany Lions enter the contest with a head of steam after rolling through their first 22 games. Coming into play, PSU has a 15-7 record, highlighted by a 12-6 mark away from Happy Valley. Through the first six weeks of the season, Penn State has more than tripled its total of road victories from the 2010 campaign.
Recently, the Lions and Golden Flashes have developed a rivalry after battling five times since 2007. Penn State holds a slim 3-2 advantage in the series, but the last three contests have all been decided by two runs or less. During bouts in Ohio, the series is tied at one game apiece after KSU won the last match-up, 9-8, on March 30, 2010.
Nearing the start of Big Ten action, the midweek contest will serve as another non-conference test for the Nittany Lions. Kent State, which is coming off of a berth in the 2010 NCAA Regionals, enters the game with a 12-10 record. The squad has been on a roll of late, winning three of its last four contests highlighted by a 22-2 drubbing of Xavier last Wednesday.
Those fans that are unable to attend the game can follow the action in a variety of ways. GameTracker will be provided through GoPSUSports.com, while a live radio broadcast will also be available.
Off to a strong start in 2011, Penn State has been guided by a well-balanced squad that has found success in all phases of the game. Currently, the Nittany Lions rank second in the Big Ten with a 3.05 ERA, third in the conference with a .296 batting average, and ninth nationally with 29 double plays.
Standout third baseman Jordan Steranka has been at the forefront of the team's offensive success, leading the Big Ten with five home runs, 23 RBI, and a .630 slugging percentage. Joey DeBernardis also sits atop the league with 12 doubles, while Sean Deegan leads the way with four triples.
The pitching staff has also been stellar so far this season, led by sophomore ace Steven Hill. The right-hander currently ranks first in the conference with 42 innings pitched, second with 34 strikeouts, and fifth with a 2.36 ERA. Meanwhile, junior Dave Walkling leads the Big Ten and ranks fifth nationally with five victories.
On the other side of the diamond, Kent State has also benefited from a strong all-around team. The Golden Flashes are led by sophomore southpaw Andrew Chafin, who was rated as the No. 1 pro prospect from the Mid-American Conference. Following Tommy John surgery last year, he has posted a 3-1 record and a 0.53 ERA during his first six appearances this season.
Not to be overlooked, Ben Klafczynski has a team-leading .430 batting average, six home runs, and 22 RBI, while four other starters have batting averages above .300. As a team, KSU has a .278 batting average with 13 home runs, and 129 runs scored.
Eventually, the Nittany Lions will return to their cozy confines of Medlar Field at Lubrano Park this weekend as the squad kicks off Big Ten play with a three-game series against Illinois. The action will begin on Friday at 3:35 p.m. Originally scheduled as a 6:35 p.m. start, the game has been moved up due to the threat of snow later in the evening.