Four-Run Seventh, Rain Secure Win for PSU Baseball

psu baseball loses to minn_24283450

Penn State broke a tie game in the nick of time, as severe thunderstorms halted a 7-4 win for the Nittany Lions after the top of the eighth inning in non-conference baseball action Tuesday afternoon in Villanova Ballpark at Plymouth.
Penn State (15-31) broke a 3-3 deadlock with Villanova (8-37) with a four-run top of the seventh. Catcher Ryan Sloniger (Punxsutawney, Pa.) started the scoring with a one-out double off the right field wall to drive in second baseman Tommy Gibson (Williamstown, N.J.) and catcher Derek Orndorff (Mill Run, Pa.), who led the inning off with a single and walk, respectively. After a fielder’s choice, first baseman Shea Sbranti (Oakley, Calif.) doubled to right score another run, and then left fielder Parker Hendershot (Barton, N.Y.) singled through the right side to score Sbranti from second.
With darkening skies beyond the outfield, Penn State needed the bottom of the seventh to finish so the top half would count. Villanova right fielder Tyler Bruno added a run on a sacrifice fly, but Penn State was able to get out of the inning to officially take the lead. The Lions were unable to add to their advantage in the top of the eighth, and both teams took the field for the bottom half, but lightning and high winds moved in, halting the game.
Freshman RHP Conor Larkin (Royersford, Pa.) (1-2) earned his first career win, pitching 2 2/3 innings of relief with four strikeouts and allowing just one run on three hits and two walks. He followed classmate Kyle Virbitsky (Media, Pa.), who made his first career start and worked a career-high 4 1/3 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with no walks.
Sloniger, who went 1-for-2 with the two-RBI double, and Gibson, who went 2-for-3, with a sacrifice fly led the team with two RBIs each, while Hendershot went 3-for-4 with an RBI and double and shortstop Joe Weisenseel (Strongsville, Ohio) went 2-for-3 with a run and RBI-triple.
Bruno paced the Wildcats going 2-for-3 with two RBIs, and four pitchers combined to work eight innings.
Villanova scored first as center fielder David Gulati rifled a double down the right line and then scored after back-to-back singles, advancing home on a base hit through the right side from Bruno.
The Nittany Lions tied the game without registering a hit in the top of the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Gibson. RHP Cameron Mathes surrendered a pair of one-out walks and then balked to move both into scoring position, and Gibson hit a fly to the left-center gap that Gulati was able to track down from center for one out, but center fielder Mason Nadeau (Lansdale, Pa.) trotted home from third to score.
The third was scoreless, but Penn State’s bats came to life in the fourth for three hits and two runs. Hendershot singled with one out and Weisenseel tripled to down the right line to drive in the go-ahead run. Weisenseel then trotted home on a single to left by Gibson.
Villanova was able to tie the game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth. Left fielder Chris Rotondo led the inning off with a triple to left-center, and he scored on a sacrifice fly by catcher Brandon Campos. Gulati then singled, stole second and scored on a single to left first baseman Ryan Toohers.
The Nittany Lions were able to go ahead in the seventh though to secure their sixth win in their last nine games.
Penn State will conclude its season with a three-game Big Ten series at Iowa Thursday-Saturday. The games are set to start at 7 p.m. ET Thursday and Friday, while Saturday’s game will be televised live on ESPNU starting at 7:30 p.m.

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