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April 29, 2010
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Heath Named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week
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The Penn State baseball team looks to knock off its second first-place team in as many weekends when it hosts Michigan State in a key series beginning Friday at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The Spartans (28-11, 7-5 Big Ten) are one of four teams tied atop the Big Ten standings, along with Ohio State, who the Nittany Lions (17-23, 4-8 Big Ten) topped (2-of-3) last weekend. The highlight of the series is Saturday' afternoon's first-annual Wounded Warrior Project Benefit Game.
Saturday's game was developed to honor and empower wounded warriors. Its purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public's aid for the needs of severely injured service members, to help severely injured men and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, apolitical organization headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. For more, check out the official event web page at GoPSUsports.com/woundedwarrior.
Penn State has hit seven home runs over its last three games to up its season total to 35, already six more than it had all of last year. Junior Ben Heath hit three at Ohio State and is now up to 15 on the season, tied for third in school history and only two away from tying the Penn State single-season record of 17. Junior Mario Eramo is second with seven long balls after hitting his third in as many games on Tuesday against La Salle.
A number of special promotions will coincide with Saturday's Wounded Warrior Game. It is the first of three "4 for $24" games with four tickets, four hot dogs and four sodas for only $24! Free camo shakers will be given away while the team will be wearing specially designed camo jerseys, with a select few of the game-worn jerseys available to fans via auction - online and silent (at the game). Special Penn State Baseball Camo T-Shirts will be available as well for only $10 with $4 donated to WWP. Donations will also be accepted on the concourse.
Not to be forgotten, Friday is Heritage Night and the third of five Dollar Hot Dog Nights. Mini Stadiums will be given away at Sunday's Honoring True Blue game. For the complete promotion schedule, please click here.
Live audio and video via Penn State All-Access will be available along with live stats through GameTracker. And as always, be sure to follow the Penn State Baseball Twitter page.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Friday, April 30, Michigan State at Penn State, 6:35 PM ET
COVERAGE: GameTracker | Watch Live | Twitter
Michigan State: AJ Achter (4-2, 3.27 ERA)
Penn State: Steven Hill (2-4, 5.15 ERA)
4/30-5/2: MICHIGAN STATE
5/14-16: at Minnesota
Despite not reaching base on Tuesday, Ben Heath, has still reached base safely in 37 of his 39 games this season.
Heath only has two fewer extra base hits (29) than strikeouts (31).
Elliot Searer brings a 22-game on-base streak into the weekend.
Heath could become the third Nittany Lion player to reach 100 career hits this season - he is currently at 87.
The Nittany Lions hope to do what they did last weekend - win a series against a first-place team.
Currently, four teams are tied for first - Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State and Northwestern. The Spartans own the Big Ten's best overall record at 28-11 for a .718 winning percentage.
The Lions stand in 10th place, but are only two games out of a Big Ten Tournament berth and three games out of first, this with half the conference schedule still remaining.
Penn State looks to snap a five-game losing streak against the Spartans. Michigan State swept last season's meetings in East Lansing. The Lions trail the all-time series, 36-26.
Junior Mario Eramo has hit a home run in each of his last three games, only the second Penn State player to do so this season. Ben Heath also had three in a row from Mar. 20-24 against Winthrop, Kent State and Pittsburgh, respectively.
Ever since being slotted 1-2 in the lineup, Elliot Searer and Steve Snyder have gone 16-for-30 (.533) over three games. Ironically, each is 8-for-15 in that span with Snyder recording three multi-hit games and Searer having two.
Senior reliever David Lutz could make history this weekend. His next appearance will be the 77th of his career to break the school's all-time record. He only needs two appearances to tie the single-season record of 29 and three to break it.
Significance Of Last Weekend's Success
In winning two-of-three at Ohio State, the Nittany Lions captured their first-ever road series win against the Buckeyes. They had split on a number of occasions in the past.
It also marked Ohio State's first Big Ten series loss all year.
Both wins were eight-run victories to mark season-highs for run differential in a game. The previous high was at Illinois when Penn State won by seven (16-9 final).
The Lions scored 32 runs over the final two days, the first time they've scored that many over a two-game stretch since Mar. 29-30 of 2005 when they topped St. Bonaventure, 15-4 and Bucknell, 19-6.
Scoring 10+ runs in back-to-back games was the first time they've done so since last Apr. 5 and 8 when they plated 16 at Michigan and 12 vs. Bucknell.
Saturday: Penn State 18, Ohio State 10
The Penn State baseball team used a balanced offensive attack to plate a season-high 18 runs on 19 hits for an impressive 18-10 win over the first-place Ohio State Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon.
Penn State's four home runs tied a season-high - also had four in the Big Ten opening win at Illinois.
Elliot Searer's five hits tied the single-game school record. Only 12 other Nittany Lions have reached that many with the last (ironically) coming three years ago to the day when Matt Cavagnaro had five on Apr. 24, 2007 against Duquesne.
Ben Heath set a new career-high with four hits. He also tied career-highs in home runs (2), runs scored (4) and at-bats (6).
Joey DeBernardis tied a career-high in hits (3), runs (3) and at-bats (6).
Louie Picconi hit a third-inning grand slam for his first-career home run. It was also the senior's 100th career hit, the second time this season that a milestone hit has left the yard. Jordan Steranka's 100th career hit against Kent State was a home run as well.
David Lutz threw 4.2 scoreless innings out of the bullpen for his second win of the season.
Sunday: Penn State 14, Ohio State 6
Strong pitching from Ryan Ignas coupled with another offensive outburst led the Penn State baseball team to a 14-6 win at Ohio State on a rainy Sunday afternoon.
Leading 4-3 in the seventh, Heath gave the Lions some breathing room with a leadoff home run to left field. That sparked a seven-run inning to give Penn State an 11-3 advantage. The junior catcher is now tied for third in school history with 15 home runs and within two of tying the season record. He finished the afternoon 2-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored.
A day after Elliot Searer had a five-hit game, Steve Snyder recorded a career-high four, going 4-for-6 with an RBI and two runs scored. Jordan Steranka was 2-for-6 with two RBI and three runs while Sean Deegan went 2-for-4 with an RBI and run.
Two significant on-base streaks were also extended as Heath has now reached base safely in 26 consecutive games and Searer in 20 straight.
David Lutz's 27th appearance of the season and third of the weekend was a historic one as it tied the Penn State career appearance record held by Jeff Emerich. He is also within two of tying the single-season school record of 29.
Heath Named Big Ten Co-Player Of The Week
Penn State junior catcher Ben Heath was named Big Ten Co-Player of the Week on Monday following a strong week highlighted by the Lions' first-ever series win at Ohio State. Overall, Heath hit .429 in five games with three home runs and eight RBI, his second straight three-homer week. He is in the midst of one of the best seasons in school history.
The honor is Heath's first and Penn State's first since Matt Cavagnaro on Feb. 20, 2007.
The three long balls upped Heath's season total to 15, only two away from tying the school record held by Dave Simononis in 1978. He's averaged a home run every 10.5 at-bats with 11 of those long balls coming over the past 26 games. He also has 47 RBI and 117 total bases, already tied for fifth in school history while his OPS (on-base plus slugging) currently stands at 1.176.
School Records & Milestones Abundant?
Three Penn State players are on pace to break (or come close to breaking) significant single-season school records: David Lutz (appearances - record is 29, currently at 27), Sean Deegan (stolen bases - record is 27, currently at 23) and Ben Heath (home runs - record is 17, currently at 15). Deegan also has four triples, more than halfway from tying the school record of six.
Heath's huge weekend at Ohio State helped put him in position to potentially break the Penn State single-season record in total bases. He is now at 117 through 39 games played. The record is 163, held by Michael Campo during his All-American 2000 season.
On Sunday, Lutz tied Penn State's all-time record in career appearances (76).
A pair of Nittany Lions - Louie Picconi and Jordan Steranka - have recorded their 100th career hits this season while Heath could become the third before the year ends. He's at 87 hits with 14 games remaining. Ironically, both Picconi's and Steranka's 100th hits left the yard, against Ohio State (4/24) and Kent State (3/31), respectively.
The 2010 season has seen a number of significant streaks.
Senior David Lutz's scoreless inning streak ended at a career-high 8.1 innings on Sunday at Ohio State. It was also the first earned run allowed in his last 13.2 innings.
Redshirt freshman Elliot Searer saw his career-high 17-game hitting streak come to an end against All-American candidate Alex Wimmers, but he did reach base all three times to up his on-base streak to 20. His hitting streak was tied for eighth in school history.
Junior Ben Heath had his 19-game hitting streak snapped at Purdue, which now stands fourth in school history. It is also tied for the 45th longest streak in NCAA Division I baseball this season.
In total, Heath hit an incredible .459 (34-for-74) with eight home runs, 30 RBI, eight doubles and 20 runs scored along with 11 multi-hit games as part of the streak. He improved his average by 71 points in that span.
Sophomore Joey DeBernardis' on-base streak was snapped at 24 games at Purdue, but Heath's on-base streak reached 26 games before ending on Tuesday against La Salle.
Searer's and Heath's hit streaks are similar to two from last year - Jordan Steranka (18), Blake Lynd (14).
Michael Campo owns the school record (41) while Mike DeRenzo has the second-longest (23).
Penn State Catchers - Double The Success
The Nittany Lions present arguably the best catching duo in the nation, with juniors Ben Heath and Bobby Jacobs leading the way.
They've both come into their own in 2010, with Heath hitting .369 and Jacobs batting .301. The two have put up incredible numbers and are hitting a combined .346 with 17 home runs, 58 RBI, 22 doubles, 83 hits and 49 runs scored.
In addition, Heath and Jacobs have already posted career-highs in doubles with 14 and eight, respectively. In total, they own 34 percent of the team's two-baggers (22-of-65).
Searer Continues To Shine
Redshirt freshman Elliot Searer has taken advantage of increased playing time by hitting .373 to lead the team. The highlight of his season came on Saturday at Ohio State when he tied a school record with five hits, becoming only the 13th player in school history to record five hits in a game.
He had a standout game in the series finale at Purdue when he finished 2-for-3 with two walks and two RBI. He recorded 40 percent of Penn State's hits (2-of-5) while reaching base four times. He also had a big two-run single in the seventh inning to give Penn State a 3-1 advantage.
Searer has at least one hit in 25 of 29 starts this season. He has 12 multi-hit games on the season.
Searer owns the Lions' second-longest hit streak this season -17 - good for eighth in school history.
The Lewistown, Pa. native showed his versatility when he saw his first-career action in the outfield after working solely as an infielder.
He also led off for the first time at Illinois (4/4).
Searer has been an opportune base runner, swiping nine bags on the season (second on the team to only Sean Deegan), including a career-high two in the series finale against Hofstra.
Workhorses Out Of The Pen
Senior pitcher's David Lutz's 27 appearances by far lead the Big Ten with freshman Steven Hill and junior Jesse Alfreno among the conference's best as well, with 17 and 16, respectively.
Along with the potential school single-season and career appearance records, Lutz also has a chance to break the known conference record held by Ohio State's Jake Hale (40 in 2009). Please note that not all Big Ten schools have kept appearances as a record, making the mark unofficial.
Lutz has appeared in 16 of the last 21 games, including a span of eight straight snapped vs. Pitt (4/13).
Ben Heath - Johnny Bench Award Candidate
Penn State junior Ben Heath (Huntersville, N.C.) is one of 71 Division I catchers on the Watch List for the Coleman Company Johnny Bench Award delivered by Papa John's Pizza, as announced by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. Named in honor of the former Cincinnati Reds' great, the award is presented to the top catcher in Division I.
Heath is one of five Big Ten catchers named to the list.
All-American & Dick Howser Trophy Candidate
Heath's hot start has put him on the national radar.
The National Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) has added him to the Dick Howser Trophy Watch List and All-America ballot. The Howser trophy is presented annually to the national collegiate baseball player of the year.
Heath has asserted himself as one of the nation's top catchers. When comparing his season to the other Johnny Bench Award candidates, he is near the top of almost every statistical category (complete comparison as of Apr. 27).
He is first in total bases (117), slugging percentage (.765) and extra-base hits (29), second in OPS (1.206), fifth in RBI (47) and seventh in doubles (14), hits (58) and runs scored (38). Heath is first among the power six conferences in home runs as the current leader is out of the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference).
Tracking Heath: Season Updates
Heath is on pace to break the school's single-season home run record and finish near the top in doubles in a season. He by far leads Penn State in almost every statistical category. His current OPS is an incredible 1.176 while his slugging percentage of .745 would put him third in program history. He could also finish among the top five (if not top) in nearly every statistical category, including hits, runs, RBI and total bases (among others).
In total, Heath leads the Lions with a career-high 15 home runs, 14 doubles, 47 RBI and .745 slugging percentage. He also has a team-best .431 on-base percentage. Heath is hitting .369 in 39 games (all starts), with his average jumping 51 points (from .318) in the last month.
The junior catcher is coming off his second straight three-homer week, with all three long balls coming in the span of two days against Ohio State - both Penn State wins.
Heath began the Purdue series by hitting a second-inning home run off one of the Big Ten's best pitchers - Matt Bischoff - on Friday. He finished 2-for-3 on the afternoon.
Before his monster game against Pittsburgh (4/13), Heath finished the series against Northwestern (4/9-11) with a .583 average (7-for-12) along with three doubles. He also had two three-hit games to tie a career-high.
Big Ten opening weekend at Illinois (4/2-4) featured a home run in back-to-back games. It marked the third time that he went deep in two or more consecutive games. He then made it four times with home runs in consecutive games vs. Pittsburgh (4/13) and Purdue (4/16).
Against Pittsburgh (3/24) and Hofstra (3/26-28), the native of Huntersville, N.C. finished 9-for-18 in five games to improve his season average from .317 to (at the time) .358. He finished with one home run, seven RBI and three runs scored.
The highlight of his weekend against Hofstra included a 3-for-4 effort in Game Two of Saturday's doubleheader with a double, run scored and three RBI. He then went 2-for-4 with a walk and run scored in the series finale.
At Pittsburgh, Heath hit his third home run in as many games, a long three-run shot for his seventh long ball of the season. That propelled Penn State to a 3-0 first-inning advantage.
Heath had a monster performance at the Coca-Cola Classic (3/19-21), playing in three of four games with a .455 average (5-for-11), a double, two home runs (including first-career grand slam), 10 RBI and six runs scored. He also had four walks, improving his on-base percentage to .600 for the week.
His hits have come at huge moments, starting in the season-opener vs. Cincinnati (2/26) when his solo homer in the sixth broke a 1-1 deadlock.
Then against Notre Dame (2/28), his seventh-inning long ball pulled the Lions within one while his ninth-inning home run tied the score at eight to force extra innings.
Against McNeese State (3/5), his home run doubled Penn State's lead from three (4-1) to six (7-1), serving as the key knockout blow in a 12-6 win.
Heath has also been strong defensively, posting a .994 fielding percentage while throwing out 27 percent of potential base stealers (14-of-52).
The Series With Michigan State
The two Big Ten rivals have played a competitive all-time series.
The teams played way back in 1920, a 14-5 Penn State win. They didn't play again until 1992, the Lions' first in the Big Ten.
Penn State then struggled in losing seven straight, but bounced back with a vengeance, including a stretch of four straight wins and seven of nine in 2000-01.
The streaky nature of the series has continued as the Spartans enter the weekend with five straight victories, their longest win streak against the Lions since that seven game stretch from 1992-93.
Ironically, Penn State has had more success on the road (13-15 record) than at home (13-19).
The only other time Michigan State played at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park was in 2008 when it took three of four.
Scouting Michigan State
The Spartans own the Big Ten's best overall record at 28-11. They have impressed in their nonconference slate, going an eye-popping 21-6.
Just a few (of many) wins include: Seton Hall, West Virginia, Notre Dame (3X), Minnesota (2X) and Ohio State.
The team is hitting a collective .333 with all but six hitters at .300 or better. Eli Boike leads the way with a .400 average, team-leading six home runs and 36 RBI. Jeff Holm is right behind him, hitting .388 with 39 driven in, tops on the squad. The production has been well-distributed with a total of five players with 30 RBI or more. Ryan Jones is hitting .382, Brandon Eckerle is at .355 and Jonathan Roof comes in at .341.
For as good as the hitting has been, the pitching has been just as impressive, owning a Big Ten-leading 4.29 ERA. Friday's starter - AJ Achter - comes in at 3.27 while Kurt Wunderlich (2.97) and Tony Bucciferro (4.19) own strong numbers as well. Wunderlich, who will start Saturday, leads the team with seven wins in only nine starts. Kurtis Frymier has been the primary closer, with five saves on the season and 4.22 ERA in a team-leading 17 games.
Redshirt senior pitcher Mike Wanamaker impressed at Purdue (4/18) in his best start since returning from injury. He threw 6.2 dazzling innings, allowing only six hits and two runs (one earned). He left with the lead, but ended up with a no-decision.
Wanamaker returned to the mound against Texas A&M (3/10) after missing last season. He was a Second Team All-Big Ten honoree in 2008.
On a pitch count, he tossed the first four innings, allowing three hits and three runs (two earned) while striking out four.
After allowing two runs in the first inning, he bounced back by striking out the side in the second. He retired nine of 10 in a span bridging the first through fourth innings.
Wanamaker was strong against Kent State (3/19), tossing six strong innings for his first win since 2008.
Lions Stage Impressive Comeback Win Over No. 24 Pittsburgh On Apr. 13
Trailing 8-4, the Penn State baseball team responded with five runs in the seventh inning and five more in the eighth on its way to a thrilling 14-8 victory over No. 24 Pittsburgh at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
The Nittany Lions ultimately took the lead off Panthers' ace starter Corey Baker, who entered in the seventh inning and was touched up for three runs in 1.1 innings. Ben Heath once again spearheaded the Penn State offensive attack, going 3-for-5 with two home runs to extend his hit streak to 18 games.
Heath's Big Day
Heath's monster day marked his second-consecutive three-hit game to once again tie a career-high.
He also scored a career-high tying four runs.
In the eighth inning, Heath hit a long fly ball down the left field line, which went just foul. It would have marked his third home run of the game, falling just short of tying the school record set on two other occasions.
The junior catcher became the first Penn State player with double-digit home runs since Chris Wright had 13 in 2001.
Heath now has three home runs in two games against Pittsburgh and six long balls in five games against BIG EAST Teams this season.
Jordan Steranka tied a career-high with two doubles, including the first which tied things up at eight.
Sean Deegan had a monster day as well, tying a career-high in hits (3), home runs (1) and RBI (2).
All-Time Against BIG EAST
Pittsburgh is out of the BIG EAST, a familiar conference to the Lions.
With the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge destined to stay for the foreseeable future, the Nittany Lions will have their annual opportunity to face one of the top conferences in the nation.
Winning three-of-five BIG EAST games so far this season, Penn State is now 263-138-2 against current members of that conference.
The squad has faced Pittsburgh the most (122 times) while also playing West Virginia (105), Villanova (59) and Rutgers (54) numerous times.
Penn State has never faced one squad - Louisville.
In total, Penn State plays five BIG EAST teams this season, the most of any conference (other than the Big Ten) - Cincinnati, Notre Dame, Pittsburgh, Seton Hall and Villanova. A road tilt at Villanova (5/18) still remains.
The 11-inning loss to Northwestern (4/10) marked Penn State's fifth extra-inning game of the season. The Lions are 2-3 in those contests.
After a 12 game "drought," the Nittany Lions saw the Mar. 20 tilt against Winthrop go to extras.
It marked the first extra-inning game since the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge. Penn State played three extra-inning games in as many days, against Cincinnati, Seton Hall and Notre Dame.
The Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge has seen four extra-inning games in its two-year history, three coming from Penn State this year.
Penn State had four extra-inning games ALL last season, three in 2008 and four in 2007.
Until Apr. 10, the Lions were 0-2 in games ending in 10 innings, but 2-0 in games lasting longer than 10 frames. That ended when Northwestern scored in the 11th to hand Penn State's first "over 10 inning" loss.
Ironically, three of the extra-inning games were when Ryan Ignas has started - Northwestern (4/10), Winthrop (3/20), Cincinnati (2/26).
Johnson Shows Versatility
Junior Heath Johnson came out of the bullpen against Bucknell (4/6) for his first-career pitching appearance after starting 20 games in the outfield.
The native of Alamagordo, N.M. tossed a scoreless fourth inning, while striking out one.
He then pitched a scoreless ninth inning vs. Northwestern (4/11) for his first-career save. This after starting the game as the DH. He also struck out the only batter he faced at Purdue (4/18).
Johnson came back last Sunday at Ohio State to throw a career-high 2.1 innings as part of the 14-6 victory.
Johnson is the third of three position players to pitch this season as Steve Snyder and Joey DeBernardis have also seen action.
Snyder Coming Through In The Clutch
Freshman Steve Snyder has consistently come up big at the plate.
Six of his 35 hits this season have driven in two or more runs. He is currently fifth on the team with 22 RBI, mainly from the bottom of the batting order. He has hit ninth in the lineup in all but four starts, when he led off, batted second (3X) and seventh.
Ever since being moved to the No. 2 hole, Snyder has caught fire, hitting .533 (8-for-15) with three multi-hit games.
Snyder's streak of three straight games with multiple hits (and RBI) was snapped against Bucknell (4/6), but he did go 1-for-2 with an RBI and run scored. He hit .429 (12-for-28) with 10 RBI on his recent seven-game hitting streak, recording multiple hits in five of those contests.
Most recently, Snyder set a career-high with four hits on Sunday at Ohio State. For perspective, it was double his previous career-high of two set on numerous occasions.
With the walk-off win over Bucknell (4/6), Penn State has now seen an incredible eight this season end via a walk-off of some kind, five in the Nittany Lions' favor.
Joey DeBernardis has two walk-off singles while his bouncer to third against Hofstra was thrown away to give the Lions the 2-1 victory. Juniors Mario Eramo and Bobby Jacobs were at the plate for the Lions' other walk-off wins.
After the Nittany Lions came back for a 6-5 win over Columbia at the Coca-Cola Classic, Winthrop pulled out a 14-13 walk-off (extra-inning) win in the nightcap.
The season's first three games ended in walk-off fashion, the first two Penn State victories. Then, Texas State hit a sacrifice fly with one out in the bottom of the ninth to (at the time) even the Lions' "walk-off record."
Offense Impresses Illinois
As part of the Big Ten opening weekend at Illinois, the Nittany Lion offense exploded for 16 runs in the series opener (4/2).
The 16 runs were the most since last Apr. 5 at Michigan in a 16-5 win.
The run total also tied the most the Lions have ever scored against Illinois (the other was a 16-5 win on April 26, 2008).
It was also the most Penn State has ever scored in a Big Ten opener. The previous high was 14 against Indiana on March 23, 2001.
The Lions allowed 19 hits in the win. The last time they allowed 17 or more hits in a victory was on Mar. 11, 2009, an 18-16 win over Florida Gulf Coast.
As part of the weekend, the Lions hit seven home runs (four on Friday, two on Saturday and one on Sunday). They now have 35 long balls on the season, six more than all of last season (29).
In fact, junior Ben Heath already has more than double the home runs (15) than last season's leader (Jordan Steranka, 6). Junior Mario Eramo has seven long balls and Steranka has six.
Milestone Hit For Sophomore Steranka
Sophomore Jordan Steranka's home run against Kent State (3/31) had extra special meaning. The hit marked the 100th of his career.
With two years still to go, Steranka has a chance to finish his Lion career among the program leaders in hits. Only seven players in program history have reached 200 career hits, led by Michael Campo's school-record 295.
The Nittany Lions have staged some impressive late-inning comebacks, including against Bucknell (4/6) when they plated two ninth-inning runs for the victory.
Down 5-0 against Columbia (3/20), Penn State fought back to tie the score with a run in the seventh before winning in the bottom of the ninth.
That marked the third time this season the Lions have come back in the seventh inning or later to win a game. They were also trailing heading to the sixth inning vs. Kent State before scoring two to hold on for the win.
It marked Penn State's first comeback win since the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge in the opening weekend of the season. It had to come back in the eighth inning or later in all three of those games to force extra innings while coming away with two victories.
Experiencing The "States"
The Nittany Lions are enjoying a mini tour of the United States this season, with early games in Florida, Texas and South Carolina while later traveling to Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Minnesota.
Fittingly, Penn State is playing a number of "States." In total, they face five teams that end in State, including this past week's opponent, Kent State. They've already played two - McNeese and Texas State - while also facing Ohio and Michigan State come conference season.
Coppin State was also on the schedule, but the Feb. 20 game was canceled.
From The Pocket To The "Hill"
Freshman pitcher Steven Hill, also a quarterback on the football team, has been strong in his first collegiate appearances - owning a 5.15 ERA, second on the team among regulars.
He followed up his first-career start against Lamar (3/6), with another strong performance against Texas State (3/14). For the second time in as many starts, he tossed six innings, this time allowing only two runs to keep Penn State in the game.
Against Cincinnati (2/26), he was summoned with runners on the corners and only one out in the top of the 10th. He struck out the first batter on three pitches before inducing a groundout to end the threat (all strikes). He then went on to retire six in a row in the 11th and 12th innings for the win.
Then against Notre Dame (2/28), he pitched three innings in relief, only allowing one run to go along with six strikeouts. He got out of a bases loaded one out jam in the bottom of the ninth with two consecutive strikeouts.
Hill entered into a similar situation against Columbia (3/20). With runners on first and third with only one out in the eighth, he induced two straight pop ups to work out of the jam and earn his second win.
He picked up his first-career save, tossing 1.1 scoreless frames against No. 24 Pittsburgh (4/13), then last time out at Ohio State (4/23), he dueled with one of the nation's best pitchers in Alex Wimmers, falling just short. In the end, he only allowed three runs in a career-high seven innings.
Four Penn State pitchers - Ryan Ignas, Neal Herring, Steven Hill, Mike Wanamaker and Calvin Grumley - have combined to toss 13 quality starts this season.
Ignas allowed two runs (both earned) in seven innings against Cincinnati (2/26) and McNeese State (3/5), both Nittany Lion victories.
Herring one-upped his strong performance against Seton Hall (2/27) when he allowed two earned runs in six innings, by allowing only one earned run in six frames against Dallas Baptist (3/6). That led to his first-career victory.
In his first-career start, Hill dazzled in his home state of Texas, allowing only one earned run in six against Lamar (3/6). He then allowed only two runs in the series finale at Texas State (3/14).
Wanamaker then enjoyed a quality start against Kent State (3/19) when he only allowed three runs in six innings for the victory.
Ignas and Herring posted quality starts against Hofstra (3/27-28), each throwing seven innings while allowing one and two earned runs, respectively.
Ignas then dazzled against Northwestern (4/10), going a career-high 7.1 innings, allowing only one earned run.
Arguably Penn State's best pitching performance of the season came at Purdue (4/18) when Wanamaker went 6.2 innings, only allowing six hits and one earned run against the high-powered Boilers' offense.
Grumley was strong last time out, allowing only two runs (one earned) in six innings vs. Mount St. Mary's (4/21).
Penn State Impresses At Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge
Penn State went 2-1 from Feb. 26-28 to tie for the top record of any Big Ten teams at the challenge.
No Big Ten squad finished undefeated while a total of five finished 2-1. Louisville and St. John's out of the BIG EAST both went 3-0.
It marks the second consecutive season that the Lions went 2-1 at the challenge. Last year, they were one of six Big Ten squads to do so.
A Team Effort
The Big Ten/BIGEAST Challenge success came from a variety of sources.
Here is what the following players contributed in the win over Cincinnati:
Sophomore Joey DeBernardis - Walk-off single in the bottom of the 12th
Junior Ben Heath - Double and home run
Freshman Steven Hill - Retired all eight batters he faced (in innings 10-12) for the win
Sophomore Ryan Ignas - Strong start, allowing only two runs in seven innings
Freshman Steve Snyder - Game-tying triple with two outs in the ninth
Then in the following day's 3-2 walk-off win in 13 against Seton Hall:
Junior Heath Johnson - Tripled and scored in the first, later drove in game-tying run in the eighth with a sacrifice fly
Sophomore Jordan Steranka - Two hits, including leadoff double and game-winning run in the bottom of the 13th
Junior Mario Eramo - Walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th
Freshman Neal Herring - Started and allowed only two runs in six innings of first collegiate game.
Entire Bullpen: Redshirt senior David Lutz, freshman John Walter and junior Jesse Alfreno tossed seven scoreless innings, only allowing four hits. In total, Penn State pitchers kept Seton Hall off the board for the final eight innings.
About Wounded Warrior - May 1 Benefit Game
May 1 against Michigan State marks a special day for Penn State baseball as it hosts a Wounded Warrior Benefit Game.
The mission of the Wounded Warrior Project is to honor and empower wounded warriors. Its purpose is to raise awareness and to enlist the public's aid for the needs of severely injured service members, to help severely injured men and women aid and assist each other, and to provide unique, direct programs and services to meet their needs. WWP is a national, apolitical organization headquartered in Jacksonville, FL. To get involved and learn more, visit www.woundedwarriorproject.org.
Nittany Lions Take Part In THON
With its season-opening weekend canceled, the Penn State baseball team made the most of it by getting involved in THON at the Bryce Jordan Center. The 38th annual Penn State IFC/Panhellenic Dance Marathon began on Friday (Feb. 19) at 6 p.m. and lasted until Sunday at 4 p.m., raising more than $7.8 million for pediatric cancer research.
Penn State student-athletes have always been heavily involved in THON. Baseball is normally on the road THON weekend, but with the games at Longwood canceled, the Nittany Lions were on campus, giving them the opportunity to participate. Despite being too late to enter the pep rally, the squad found time between a busy weekend of practice for Athlete Hour on Saturday.
Baseball's Big Ten Network Schedule Released
The Penn State baseball team will be featured at least six times on the Big Ten Network in 2010.
The Nittany Lions open the Big Ten Network's coverage on Apr. 2 at Illinois. All three games from the weekend series can be viewed on BigTenNetwork.com.
Penn State's complete home series vs. Iowa from May 7-9 will be shown live on the Big Ten Network as well.
Should they make the conference tournament, the Nittany Lions would see additional games aired on the Big Ten Network. Each and every game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
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Big Ten Baseball Tournament To Be Held In Columbus Through 2010
The Big Ten Conference, Huntington Park and the Greater Columbus Sports Commission announced that Columbus, Ohio, will be home to the Big Ten Baseball Tournament for the 2010, 2011 and 2012 seasons.
The Big Ten played its first neutral-site tournament since 1994 at Columbus' Huntington Park in 2009 and will return to the ballpark in 2011 and 2012.
Due to a facility conflict, the 2010 tournament will be held at Ohio State's Bill Davis Stadium.
For the complete story, please click here
Lions Release Ticket & Promotional Information
Penn State baseball season tickets are very affordable at $99 in the box and $63 all other sections. Youth and students are only $20!
Ticket prices remain the same as last season with "In The Box" reserved seats for only $6 while Adult General Admission is $4 and Youth and Student General Admission are $2. In addition, groups of 20 or more can purchase General Admission tickets for only $3.
Tickets can be purchased online or over the phone. Please call 1-877-997-7453 or (814) 272-1711, Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. - 4 p.m. Fans can also direct any additional questions or comments via phone, or by email (email@example.com).
For more information, please click here
Baseball Signs Seven Top Recruits To National Letters Of Intent
Penn State head baseball coach Robbie Wine announced in November the signing of seven top recruits to National Letters of Intent.
Among the class are five of the top prospects from Pennsylvania and two from Massachusetts. The group, that will join the program in the fall of 2010, consists of two pitchers, three position players and two others who can both pitch and play in the field.
Among the incoming freshmen are five from the Keystone State: right-handed pitcher Scott Dixon (Blairsville), outfielder Zach Ell (Plains), third baseman Kyle Redinger (Lebanon), pitcher/infielder Austin Urban (Windber) and left-handed pitcher Greg Welsh (Holland). They are set to join 15 Nittany Lion underclassmen from Pennsylvania who are scheduled to return in the fall of 2010.
Along with the Pennsylvania talent, the Nittany Lions will welcome two from Massachusetts: catcher Alex Farkes (Boston) and right-handed pitcher/infielder TJ Jann (Westford).
For the complete story, please click here
Milestone Game For Penn State Baseball
Penn State played in its 3,000th all-time game on Mar. 1 of last season. Fittingly, it came against the winningest program in NCAA history, Texas.
The Nittany Lions stand in the top 50 in all-time winning percentage among schools with a minimum of 25 years in Division I. Their all-time record is 1,835-1,188-21 (.606).
Baseball is the oldest intercollegiate sport at Penn State, dating back to its debut in 1875. This season marks the Nittany Lions' 122nd in program history due to not fielding a team for several years in the late 1880s. Penn State is one of only a select few schools in the nation to boast a team for at least 120 years.
Baseball Camp Information Now Available
Baseball camp information is now available.
Just call the Sports Camp Office at (814) 865-0561 or email them at SportCampInfo@outreach.psu.edu for more information.
Also, visit them on their website by clicking here.
Baseball Alumni Event Set For May 7-8
Penn State baseball's alumni event is set for May 7-8. The event coincides with Nittany Lion home games against Iowa at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. All baseball alumni are invited to attend. Please contact the Varsity `S' Club Coordinator, Mike Milliron at firstname.lastname@example.org or (814) 867-2202 with any questions or to RSVP.
For more information, please click here.
2010 Media Guide Now Available
The 2010 media guide is now available! In it, you can find everything you need to know about Penn State baseball including stats, player bios, a complete history section and MUCH more!
The guide is available for PDF download, for view through the interactive website Issuu or for purchase.
Hard copies are available for only $7. They can be purchased through the publications store on GoPSUsports.com.
Just click here for all the information!
Sign Up For Penn State Baseball News
Fans, want to stay up to date on the Penn State baseball team? Sign up today by contacting Justin Lafleur (email@example.com) in the Penn State Athletic Communications Department. You will receive game previews, game recaps, news releases and more, straight to your inbox!
Follow Penn State Baseball On Twitter!
Penn State baseball is on Twitter! You can find exclusive notes and features to help stay one step ahead when following the Nittany Lions.
Included will be live in-game scoring updates, so if you can't make it to Happy Valley, you'll still be able to follow all the action. Go to www.twitter.com and search for the username psubaseball. Or click here!
Check Back To GoPSUsports.com For Exclusive Video!
New this season is exclusive postgame highlights and interviews on GoPSUsports.com. Check back often to the Penn State baseball YouTube page for more highlight and interview packages as the season progresses.