Penn State Loses Tough Series Opener to Michigan
The Penn State Nittany Lions (13-20, 2-5 Big Ten) dropped the first game of a weekend series against the Michigan Wolverines (16-19, 3-4 Big Ten) Friday evening at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Penn State starting pitcher John Walter (1-6), who entered the game ranked fourth in the Big Ten with 44 strikeouts, struggled with his command for most of the game. Walter allowed two earned runs over four innings of work while striking out five.
Walter, who retired six straight batters before a four-pitch leadoff walk to centerfielder Patrick Biondi, quickly recorded two outs but then allowed his second four pitch walk of the 3rd inning to the number four hitter John DiLaura. That’s when shortstop Brian Delaney put the Wolverines on the scoreboard with an RBI single to right for the 1-0 lead.
The Nittany Lions would quickly tie the game in the bottom half of the inning with a two out homerun off the bat of Joey DeBernardis who went 3-for-4 on the evening with one RBI. First baseman Jordan Steranka would then triple off the top of the right field wall and would later score on Aaron Novak’s RBI single up in the middle to give Penn State the 2-1 lead.
Two keys to Michigan’s success Friday evening was the outstanding play of their starting pitcher Brandon Sinnery and timely hits from their offense. Sinnery who got the win did give up 10 hits over nine innings of work, but allowed only three runs while striking out six
“[Sinnery] was just locating well,” said DeBernardis. “He was throwing strikes and had good command of his pitches.”
In the top of fifth inning, the Wolverines broke the game open by sending nine batters to the plate and scoring four runs in the inning to take the 5-2 lead. The key play in the inning was a two out RBI single up the middle by left fielder Kevin Krantz.
Penn State head coach Robbie Wine said after the game that it’s imperative for his team to bounce back and finish up the weekend strong.
“We’re getting to a point now where we need to win,” said Wine. “This performance tonight was very lackluster and disappointing. I feel like we’re waiting for something to happen instead of making things happen.”
Tim Dunn, who came on in relief in the top of the fifth inning after Walter threw a wild pitch, struggled on the mound as well. Dunn pitched 3.1 innings, giving up three hits, four earned runs and walking three.
The Nittany Lions would cut Michigan’s lead to 5-3 on Jordan Steranka’s RBI sacrifice fly that scored Luis Montesinos.
Sinnery’s pitching ultimately was too much for the Nittany Lions to overcome. Only three times did Penn State have the lead off man get on base.
Penn State will have a chance to redeem themselves Saturday afternoon as they send Joe Kurrasch to the mound. Kurrasch pitched well his last time out, and has a record of 1-2 on the year with a 2.49 era.
Penn State plays Michigan at 2:05 p.m. on Saturday afternoon at Medlar Field. Listen to the broadcast on ComRadio.
Tom Zulewski is junior majoring in journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.