Hendershot’s Shot Leads Penn State Baseball Past Xavier, 6-5

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 Freshman Parker Hendershot (Barton, N.Y.) drove in a career-high four runs and broke a deadlocked game in the eighth inning with his first career home run to lead Penn State to a 6-5 victory over Xavier in non-conference baseball action Thursday night on Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
 
Penn State (12-30) and Xavier (16-33) will finish the three-game series with a doubleheader Friday starting at 2 p.m, and Senior Day ceremonies will take place following the conclusion of the games. The series was originally scheduled to conclude Saturday, but thunderstorms are in the forecast.
 
Led by Hendershot, the Nittany Lion freshmen were dominant, driving in five of the six runs and pitching for all but one out. Penn State fought back twice to tie the Musketeers before taking its first lead on Hendershot’s eighth-inning home run. Hendershot tied the game in the fourth with a two-run double off the left field wall. The Lions then trailed by three in the sixth, but after sophomore Braxton Giavedoni (Punxsutawney, Pa.) hit a sacrifice fly to cut the deficit to two, Hendershot used an excuse-me swing for an RBI fielder’s choice to cut the deficit to one, and freshman Curtis Robison (Dillsburg, Pa.) then tied the game with an RBI-double.
 
Hendershot and Robison accounted for half of Penn State’s eighth hits, as they both posted two each. Five of the eight hits went for extra bases, as in addition to Hendershots homer and double and Robison’s double, center fielder Jordan Bowersox (Winter Springs, Fla.) and catcher Ryan Sloniger (Punxsutawney, Pa.) both doubled.
 
Penn State used six pitchers, of which five were freshmen. Senior Jake Pilewicz (Sewickley, Pa.) was the lone veteran to pitch, but it was for just one out. RHP Kyle Virbitsky (Media, Pa.) (1-2) earned his first career win with a scoreless eighth and RHP Mason Mellott (State College, Pa.) picked up his fourth save of the season. RHP Bailey Dees (Charlotte, N.C.) made his third start of the season and went a career-high 4 1/3 innings, striking out a career-high nine but allowing four runs on three hits and two walks. Pilewicz allowed a run in the fifth, but it was the last run the Musketeers would muster, as RHP Conor Larkin (Royersford, Pa.) got the Lions out of a jam in the fifth and pitched into the seventh, and playing matchups LHP Jeff Taylor (Lancaster, Pa.) got the final out of the seventh. Virbitsky and Mellott worked a scoreless frame each to secure the win.
 
Xavier was first on the scoreboard with two runs in the second inning. A lead-off walk proved costly for Penn State, as left fielder Nate Soria drove in the runner with a triple and then scored himself on a sacrifice fly to left off the bat of designated hitter Griffiths.
 
Penn State tied the game in the top of the fourth, with all of the offense taking place with two outs. With two down, first baseman Shea Sbranti (Oakley, Calif.) drew a four-pitch walk and Giavedoni followed with a single, bringing Hendershot to the dish, and the freshman delivered with double off the left field wall to drive in both of them.
 
Xavier went right back into the lead though with three runs in the top of the fifth. The first scored on a wild pitch, shortstop Chris Givin hit a sacrifice fly for the second, and then right fielder Joe Gellenbeck doubled to right field for a 5-2 lead.
 
The Nittany Lions again tied the game in the sixth, taking advantage of poor defense for a pair of doubles. Sloniger led the frame off with an otherwise routine fly ball to shallow left, but Soria could not find it in the outfield and it dropped. Third baseman Connor Klemann (Royersford, Pa.) followed with a walk and, after a pitching change, Sbranti was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Giavedoni drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to center, and then Klemann advanced to third on a failed pickoff attempt, putting him in position to score on a dribbler to the hole at second by Hendershot. Xavier was able to get out at second base on the Hendershot play and had an opportunity to get out of the inning on a pop-up by Robison, but third baseman Sam Flamini could not get to it and it landed for an infield-double and allowed Hendershot to score.
 
The seventh was scoreless, but Hendershot’s solo home run to left field with two outs in the eighth tipped the game in Penn State’s favor.
 
Tickets for the 2018 Penn State baseball season, presented by Family Clothesline, are available online at GoPSUsports.com or by calling the Medlar Field at Lubrano Park ticket office at 814-272-1711.

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