Penn State Hosts Bucknell on Wednesday at 6:05 p.m.
April 27, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Keeping focused on the task at hand, the Penn State baseball team will look to wrap up its home stretch with a strong performance against intrastate rival Bucknell on Wednesday evening at 6:05 p.m. at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Although the Nittany Lions (24-13) have a crucial Big Ten showdown looming this weekend against Michigan State, Penn State will have to remain focused on Wednesday's game in order to topple the reigning Patriot League Champions. Bucknell (21-24) enters the match-up having won three straight and five of its last six games.
Nearing the 130th anniversary of the first ever showdown between the two programs, Penn State and Bucknell have been longtime rivals. Since first battling in 1882, the teams have faced each other 147 times. The Nittany Lions hold the lead in the series, posting a 118-28-1 record against the Bison.
Since 1998, Penn State has been a dominant force, winning 16 straight meetings. PSU has also been strong at home during the series as the squad holds a 62-10-1 record against Bucknell in Happy Valley.
As always, fans that cannot make it out to the ballpark can still follow the action in a variety of ways. GameTracker will be available on GoPSUSports.com. Additionally, a live radio broadcast will be available on PSU All-Access and ESPN 1450.
Since kicking off their current homestand exactly two weeks ago, the Nittany Lions have gone 5-3 with two other games cancelled as a result of the weather. During that time, Joey DeBernardis has been the star offensively for Penn State. In those eight games, he has posted a team-best .346 batting average while tallying four doubles and six runs scored.
Keeping his strong junior season going, Sean Deegan also has been outstanding recently. During the homestand, he has recorded 10 hits while scoring 10 times. Both of those lead the team. The centerfielder has also notched three doubles, a triple, and one home run while slugging at a .563 clip.
Impressive at the heart of the lineup, Jordan Steranka also looks to wrap up the home stretch with another strong effort. Since returning to Happy Valley on April 13, he has collected nine RBI, which increased his season total to 46. That leads the Big Ten by eight and ranks 24th nationally.
Leading the Lions on the hill, John Walter has been an anchor in the middle of the weekend rotation. In his two starts during the homestand, he posted a 1-0 record to go along with a 1.93 ERA. Overall, he ranks second in the conference with a 2.26 ERA. Oddly, he also ranks second in the Big Ten in opponent batting average with a similar .226 mark.
Looking to continue their recent roll, the Bucknell Bison will rely on their well-rounded lineup. Through 45 games, the squad is hitting .283 with six starters above .300. Gerry Runyan leads that group with a .349 average, while Drew Constable sits at .328 with four home runs.
Extremely potent in the middle of the lineup, Doug Shribman has launched 15 home runs this season, which currently ranks fourth nationally. Not to be overlooked, Bob Donato has clubbed 10 long balls and knocked in 32 runs. Bucknell is one of only five teams in the country that has a pair of players with at least 10 home runs.
Relying on a deep stable of pitchers, the Bison have nine players with at least 10 appearances and 13 with at least eight. Alex Cillo has been the most consistent pitcher, making 15 appearances while posting a 3-1 record with a 2.65 ERA.
Shipping out after two weeks worth of home games, Penn State will head to East Lansing for a crucial three-game series with Michigan State beginning on Friday at 3:05 p.m.