Baseball Comes Back to Beat Mount St. Mary’s
A late inning rally by the Penn State baseball team (19-21, 6-6 Big Ten) propelled the Nittany Lions to a 5-3 non-conference win over Mount St. Mary’s (12-33) in the opening game of five-game home stand Tuesday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Penn State entered the game coming off of a memorable weekend. Junior Steven Hill threw a no-hitter in Saturday's win over Iowa, the first for a Nittany Lion pitcher since Nate Bump in 1995. The team also took two of three games from the Hawkeyes in the series, moving into a tie for fifth place in the Big Ten.
Mike Franklin, who started the game for Penn State, did not get the win. But he was consistent all night and kept the Nittany Lions in the game. Franklin gave up only two hits and struck out four over five innings of work.
Assistant coach Jason Bell continued to find himself pleased with the pitching staff's effort on Tuesday.
“Franklin was solid,” said Bell. “He’s a senior force who goes out there every time he takes the ball. He’ll always keep us in a game and he’ll battle and compete.”
Neal Herring came on in relief of Mike Franklin in the top of the sixth and that’s when the Mountaineers broke through on the scoreboard.
It was not until right hander Neal Herring came on in relief of Franklin in the top of the sixth inning that the Mountaineers broke through on the scoreboard. After Herring struck out second baseman Michael Foster to lead off the inning, he walked shortstop Nick Walker and yielded a single to catcher Mark Quaranta. First baseman Josh Winter then stepped in and smacked a two-run triple into left center fielder, giving Mount St. Mary's a 2-0 advantage. A Ryan Owens sacrifice fly later in the inning gave them a 3-0 lead going into the bottom of the sixth.
Herring would throw 1.2 innings, giving up three runs on three hits. Bell believed that Herring, who had not pitched in 13 days, struggled because he had not been getting enough work.
"It looked like [Herring] was getting away from some of the things he does," Bell said. "That's a byproduct of not being out there for two weeks. At the same time, it just means some of our starters have gone deeper in games, which is a good problem to have on our end."
The Nittany Lion bats would go quietly for two more innings. But in the middle of the eighth inning, a wintry mix began to fall and the winds picked up, setting the tone for a wild bottom of the eighth inning.
Senior first baseman Jordan Steranka, who finished 2-for-3 on the day, led off the bottom of the eighth with a double to left field that was aided by the slippery field, as left fielder Sam Nott slipped on his attempt to catch it.
Freshman right fielder Aaron Novak followed that with a walk, and then second baseman Luis Montesinos, who finished 2-for-4, singled to center field. With the bases loaded, designated hitter JJ White lined a base hit to left field, scoring Steranka and Novak to cut the lead to 3-2.
Catcher JC Coban hit into a fielder's choice, and then shortstop Elliot Searer singled in Montesinos. Left fielder Sean Deegan followed this up with a two-run triple to give Penn State the 5-3 lead heading into the ninth inning.
"We've had our fair share of breaks go the other team's way all season long," said Searer, who finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored. "For something to go our way is nice. Mentally, that's important: to have breaks like that, to start off a rally, especially with an extra base hit like that."
Left-handed freshman reliever Casey Kulina earned the win, and right hander Evan Dixon would get the save, striking out the side in the ninth inning.
Penn State returns to action Wednesday night as it plays host to Kent State. Tune into ComRadio for complete coverage, beginning with first pitch at 6:05 p.m.
Tom Zulewski is a junior majoring in journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.