Penn State Faces Niagara, Pittsburgh in Midweek Action
May 10, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Non-conference bouts against Niagara and Pittsburgh will highlight the Penn State baseball team's midweek action as the Nittany Lions host the Purple Eagles on Tuesday at 3:35 p.m. before battling the Panthers in Pittsburgh on Wednesday at 6 p.m. in a make-up game resulting from a rain-out on March 23.
Eager to get back on the field and snap its late-season skid, Penn State (26-18) will look to regain its momentum before heading into a crucial weekend series with Big Ten power Minnesota. The Nittany Lions have dropped five of their last six games, but they boast an 11-6 record at home and an 18-8 mark during non-conference action.
A new opponent for Penn State, Niagara has never squared off with the Nittany Lions since its baseball program was founded in 1949. This season, the Purple Eagles have posted a 7-37 record, including a 3-30 mark away from home.
Recently, Niagara picked up its most impressive win of the season as the squad handed Manhattan its first loss in MAAC play with a 5-4 victory in 11 innings on Sunday. The Jaspers came into the contest with a pristine 16-0 record during conference action.
In stark contrast to its history with Niagara, Penn State has a long-standing rivalry with Pittsburgh (28-18) since first battling in 1912. In 122 all-time meetings, the Lions hold an 81-40-1 record. One of those victories came earlier this year as PSU defeated its intrastate rival, 5-4, on April 13. Ryan Clark led the way, posting three hits including a pair of doubles.
Nearly unbeatable at home since moving into its new confines this season, Pittsburgh has posted a 15-6 record at Charles L. Cost Field. Recently, the Panthers have hit a bit of a rough patch, dropping five of their last seven, including three straight at St. John's over the weekend.
GameTracker will be available for both contests on GoPSUSports.com. There will also be a live radio broadcast on PSU All-Access and ESPN Radio 1450.
The Nittany Lions will rely on their potent offensive attack as the squad enters the week tied for the top-spot in the Big Ten with 24 home runs. Sean Deegan leads the way with eight blasts, including three during the past two weeks. Jordan Steranka and Mario Eramo have also clubbed six apiece, while Ryan Clark has chipped in with four.
Hot-hitting first baseman Joey DeBernardis has also been a threat at the plate all year long. A doubles machine, he has roped 21 two-base hits this year, which currently leads the Big Ten. Bobby Jacobs has also been a force since returning from his facial injury, posting a .324 average over the last three weeks.
Entering the week, Niagara has shown diverse skills on the offensive end. The Eagles have two players hitting over .300, a pair with more than 12 stolen bases, and John Wilson leads the team with six home runs. Adam Wagner has been the most dangerous offensively, recording a .325 batting average with five steals and 19 run scored.
Even more adept offensively, Pittsburgh boasts a .312 batting average with 25 home runs and 56 steals. Kevan Smith has been a force at the plate, recording a .398 average with 46 runs scored and 10 stolen bases. Meanwhile, David Chester is hitting at a .321 clip with 10 home runs and a team-high 49 RBI.
Next up for the Nittany Lions will be a crucial three-game series with Minnesota beginning on Friday at 6:35 p.m. The two teams will continue the weekend action on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. before the finale kicks off at 12:05 p.m. on Sunday.
Dollar dog day will kick off a weekend of exciting promotions against the Gophers. In addition to the $1 hot dogs on Friday, the team will host Little League Day and hold its annual Senior Day festivities on Sunday afternoon.