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May 22, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Entering the Big Ten Tournament for the second-straight year, Penn State (29-25, 15-9) is looking to continue its successful campaign with a strong showing in the conference playoffs. The Lions earned the No. 3 seed in the postseason and will face the Ohio State Buckeyes, who earned the No. 6 seed, on Wednesday at 3:35 p.m. to open tournament action.
Making their 10th trip to the Big Ten Tournament in program history, the Lions have posted a 13-18 record during those postseason competitions. The squad captured at least one game during seven of its previous nine trips, including three contests in 2000, 2003, and 2007. During their last appearance in the tournament in 2011, Penn State had tough losses to Purdue and Minnesota.
The double elimination tournament, which features the top six teams in the conference, will kick off at noon on Wednesday with Nebraska and Michigan State squaring off. If Penn State were to win Wednesday's contest, it will face the No. 2 seed Indiana Hoosiers on Thursday. With a loss, the Nittany Lions would play the loser of Nebraska and Michigan State.
All of the Big Ten Tournament games will be broadcasted live on the Big Ten Network. Additionally, all of Penn State's contests can be heard on ESPN Radio 1450 State College with Loren Crispell and Brian Tripp calling the action. Live stats will be available via a Gametracker link on GoPSUSports.com. In addition, fans can follow @psubaseball on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.
Penn State is coming off a great closing weekend at Michigan State, where it took two of three games from the Spartans. Senior Jordan Steranka (Pittsburgh, Pa.) drilled a two-run homer in the top of the eighth inning to lift the Nittany Lions past Michigan State by a score of 3-2 on Thursday. Then on Saturday, senior Joey DeBernardis (Lake Zurich, Ill.) hit a game-winning solo homer on Friday in the top of the ninth inning for a 6-5 victory.
Steranka was named First Team All-Big Ten, the conference office announced on Tuesday. This is Steranka's second time making an All-Conference team, last doing it in 2009 when he made the Third Team. Steranka, who enters the Big Ten Tournament six hits behind Michael Campo for the Penn State all-time hits record, is first in program history in at-bats and total bases as well as second in RBI, second in doubles, third in triples and fourth in homeruns. The senior is having a monster season as he is fifth in the conference in batting average (.362), first in slugging percentage (.615), third in hits (79), second in doubles (18), second in home runs (11) and first in total bases (134).
In addition, sophomore Joe Kurrasch (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) was named to the second team and senior Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) was named to the third team. Kurrasch, who will start on Wednesday against the Buckeyes, has really adjusted nicely as he's moved into the team's Friday night starter. The sophomore has the lowest ERA for a Big Ten starter and batters hit just .219 against him this season. His 72 strikeouts on the year ranked in a tie for fifth in the conference and was also fifth in hits allowed. Kurrasch had a 1.71 ERA in conference games.
Deegan, who was All-Big Ten last season as well, got off to a slow start but has been one of the most dangerous hitters in Big Ten play. The senior's eight homeruns in conference action ranks first in the Big Ten. Deegan's storied Penn State career includes being 10th in program history for runs scored (130), first in triples (15), eight in home runs (26) and fifth in total bases (335).
Penn State took two of three games from the Buckeyes earlier this season at Medlar Field. With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, runners on second and third and the Nittany Lions trailing by two runs in the series finale, Deegan hammered a towering shot over the right centerfield wall to give Penn State an 8-7 victory over the Buckeyes. The first of Penn State's two victories came in game two of the series with a 5-4 victory over Ohio State. The Nittany Lions trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth, but put together a two-run eighth inning to retake the lead.
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