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Baseball falls to Penn State on late home run

May 18, 2012
A Spartan baseball hat rests on a glove in the dugout on Friday afternoon May 18, 2012 at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans lost to the Nittany Lions 6-5.
A Spartan baseball hat rests on a glove in the dugout on Friday afternoon May 18, 2012 at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College Field. The Spartans lost to the Nittany Lions 6-5. —
Photo by Natalie Kolb | and Natalie Kolb The State News

Another day, another late home run spells doom for the MSU baseball team.

One day after losing a 3-2 decision to Penn State (29-24 overall, 15-8 Big Ten) after a jack in the eighth inning by Jordan Steranka, MSU (34-19, 12-11) saw its hopes crushed by a late homer in a 6-5 loss.

Penn State third baseman Joey DeBernardis’ ninth inning homer was the difference Saturday, taking with it the hopes of a No. 2 seed in the Big Ten Tournament and a NCAA Tournament Regional bid as it sailed over the fence at McLane Baseball Stadium at Old College field.

“The bottom line is we have to execute,” head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “You look at their ballclub — they execute when they have a chance. Their best guys come through in the clutch when they need them to.”

Junior pitcher Andrew Waszak was rattled early, allowing two runs in the first and struggling throughout the early portion of his outing. Both runs were scored with two outs on the board.

“I kind of let that get to me and that’s something I’ve got to control,” Waszak said. “I can’t do that.”

After eventually settling down, Waszak went seven innings allowing 10 hits, walking three and striking out three.

The Spartans struggled to finish innings the entire game allowing six hits with two outs while MSU batters were minimally effective early on.

“A major part of that is me,” Waszak said of MSU’s two-out woes.

“I’ve gotta make my pitches and help my team out. I can’t miss my locations and that’s just the biggest thing.”

The late game drama began in the seventh inning. MSU was down 4-1 heading into the inning with freshman first baseman Ryan Krill’s fifth inning homer notching the lone Spartan run.

With one out in the bottom of the seventh junior center fielder John Martinez and senior second baseman Ryan Jones reached on singles. The next batter, freshman designated hitter Blaise Salter knocked a double to center field bringing home both base runners to put the score at 4-3.

A pair of RBI-singles from junior left fielder Jordan Keur and junior third baseman Torsten Boss finished off a four-run inning and gave MSU its first lead of the day at 5-4.

The Nittany Lions tied it up at five runs apiece in the top of the next inning, and MSU failed to create any more opportunities setting up a tie game heading into the final frame with Friday’s hero Steranka leading off.

Junior pitcher Tony Wieber got the star first baseman to ground out, but the next batter was DeBernardis, whose bomb flew over the scoreboard in left field and gave Penn State the winning run.

“It’s a pretty simple game, you know, you have to execute in order to win and we’re not doing it,” Boss Jr. said.

After Salter was walked and Keur reached on a single to start the bottom of the ninth, Boss laid down a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners. Senior shortstop Justin Scanlon reached on a fielder’s choice as sophomore pitcher Jeff Kinley, who was pinch running for Salter, was gunned out at home plate. The next MSU batter, Krill, flew out to center field to end the game.

“It’s really frustrating,” Krill said. “We’ve lost a lot of one-run games this year. Those are the most frustrating out of all because you’re right there the whole game and then you just lose.”

MSU’s hopes of earning a spot as an at-large team in the NCAA Tournament take a major hit having lost the past two games against the Nittany Lions, and with Indiana’s victory Saturday over Ohio State, a No. 2 seed and first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament are also out the window.

The Spartans will close the regular season hoping to get some momentum heading into the conference tournament with game three tomorrow against Penn State at 12:05 p.m. on Senior Day.

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“We need to win tomorrow,” Boss Jr. said. “That’s the bottom line, we need to win tomorrow.”


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