Deegan Lifts Lions Over Buckeyes in Walk-Off Fashion
April 29, 2012
By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
"That's just something you dream about," said Deegan. "You always dream about hitting that walk-off and throwing your helmet up and having your teammates mob you at the plate, so it's just unreal."
In a back and fourth game that featured eleven different pitchers over ten innings, both teams needed a win to stay in the race for the conference tournament at the end of the season.
"That game means a lot," said head coach Robbie Wine. "That was a great series from start to finish and being a home team there was the key."
Nittany Lion starter John Walter had a good outing despite struggling with his command at times, going five and a third innings and allowing two runs on four hits and five walks with seven strikeouts.
The game was tied at two in the third inning when Penn State put up three runs on five hits to take a 5-2 lead. With no outs, Junior Luis Montesinos hit a bases loaded two-run single down the first base line followed by an RBI groundout from freshman designated hitter J.J. White.
The bullpen fought to hold the lead, but had a rough eighth inning in which four different relievers took the mound and allowed three runs on two hits, two hit batters and a walk, tying the game at five apiece. Sophomore Greg Welsh entered the game and, with runners on first and second, recorded a strikeout to end the threat. Seven pitchers were used in the eighth inning alone by both teams.
"They have to learn from every experience," said Coach Wine of his pitchers. "Every time you step foot on the mound, learn something from it."
Welsh pitched strong through the ninth inning, but as the game entered extras, he lost his command in the 10th. With two outs, runners on first and second, Welsh proceeded to walk the next three batters he faced to give the Buckeyes a 7-5 lead and all the momentum going into the bottom of the inning.
After two quick outs, freshman J.C. Coban and junior Elliot Searer both walked to keep the inning alive. The fans, who had made their presence known throughout the game, rallied to support the Nittany Lions as Deegan stepped to the plate. A wild pitch moved the runners to second and third, but it wouldn't matter as Deegan belted his sixth homerun of the season to hand Penn State a critical 2-1 series win.
"Going into this series 1-1, we really needed this game to put ourselves in a good position," said Deegan. "We have our fate in our own hands from here on out."
Every conference win counts and the victory for Penn State (22-22, 8-7 Big Ten) moves them into a potential four-way tie for third place in the Big Ten standings with six teams making the tournament. The Nittany Lions look to ride this weekend's momentum into Minnesota where Penn State will play a three-game series against the Golden Gophers (26-19, 9-5 Big Ten), who are second place in the Big Ten.