Penn State Sweeps Canisius with Second Straight Walk-Off Victory

Story posted April 9, 2012 in Sports, CommRadio by Artyom Kneuer

For the second straight day, the Penn State Nittany Lions (13-18, 2-4 Big Ten) recorded a walk-off 4-3 victory against the Canisius Golden Griffins (17-17) Sunday afternoon at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, as Penn State extended its winning streak to six games with the sweep of Canisius.

Penn State starting pitcher Steven Hill (2-3) was strong as he pitched a complete game, giving up only three earned runs while striking out eight. Hill proved to have good command most of the game, throwing 81 of his 122 pitches for a strike and only walking two batters.

After the game, Hill mentioned that he felt he had his best changeup of the season Sunday and that it helped him record the complete game.

The hero of the game, however, was right fielder Zach Ell for Penn State with his walk-off hit in the bottom of the 9th inning.

After designated hitter Aaron Novak singled to start the inning and was advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by second baseman Luis Montesinos, Ell came up to the plate having already gone 2-for-3 in the game with one RBI. He finished off his day by smacking a ball into center field, driving in Novak for the winning run.

With stray signs of a celebratory shaving cream pie in his face, Ell discussed what this win did for mindset of his team.

“We’re having a blast and we’re relaxed,” Ell said. “We’re having fun out there.”

Ell also mentioned how the level of trust amongst his teammates has grown over the past few weeks as the team has picked up its play.

“I think everyone is really buying into the notion of ‘we’re here as a team, we’re going to win as a team,'" he said. "That's important."

Penn State jumped out to an early 3-0 lead in the second inning behind an RBI single from Ell and a two-run double from catcher JC Coban to deep center field.

Canisius chipped away at the deficit by getting one run back in the fifth inning when Jose Torralba singled in catcher Brooklyn Foster.

Steven Hill’s worst inning came in the seventh inning, when he walked two straight batters and gave up an RBI single. He then threw a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third base. But after giving up the tying run on a fielder’s choice, he struck out pinch hitter Manny Hernandez to keep the game tied.

After a rough start to the season, the Nittany Lions have picked it up as of late, recording their first three game series sweep of the season and notching their sixth straight victory, their longest winning streak of the season. Head coach Robbie Wine discussed his team’s confidence after the game.

“For [the team] to experience that feeling, that it is never over and that we are capable of winning, is important,” Wine explained.

Hill echoed his head coach's thoughts.

“Chemistry-wise, we are the same team,” said Hill. "But the confidence is just brimming right now and everyone is so excited because we’ve been waiting for this all season.”

Penn State travels to Pittsburgh on Wednesday to take on the Panthers. The Nittany Lions defeated Pitt in a 5-3 win at Medlar Field on March 21. Penn State then returns home on Friday to start a three-game series against Big Ten rival Michigan. That 6 p.m. game can be heard live on ComRadio.

Artyom Kneuer is a sophomore majoring in Telecommunications. To contact him, email aak5215@psu.edu.