Kent State Baseball’s Rally Falls Short Against Penn State
Roberts posts career-high three doubles.
KENT, Ohio – Junior first baseman George Roberts (Summerhill, Pa.) cracked a career-high three doubles to go along with two RBIs and two runs scored, but it wasn't enough to overcome Penn State as the Kent State baseball team fell, 9-7, Tuesday (April 3) in non-conference action at Olga A. Mural Field at Schoonover Stadium.
The loss to the Nittany Lions (9-18) ended a three-game winning streak for the Golden Flashes (14-13).
Penn State plated six of its nine runs in the first three frames – including a three-run top of the first. Senior left fielder Sean Deegan and sophomore center fielder Steve Snyder drew back-to-back walks. Senior designated hitter Joey DeBernardis drove in the game's first run by smacking a single to right center to score Deegan. Senior first baseman Jordan Steranka coaxed a walk to load the bases, and junior second baseman Luis Montesinos capitalized one out later with a double to right center to bring home Snyder and DeBernardis to make it 3-0.
Kent State got on the scoreboard in the home half as senior designated hitter David Lyon (Emporium, Pa.) drew a two-out walk and scored on a double to right center by Roberts.
The Nittany Lions added two more scores in the second. Deegan smacked a one-out single to right and moved to second courtesy of a sacrifice bunt by Snyder. Deegan scored on a triple to left center by DeBernardis. DeBernardis then scampered home on a wild pitch to up Penn State's lead to four runs.
Penn State tacked on its sixth run in the third as freshman right fielder Aaron Novak hit a leadoff single through the left side and advanced 90 feet on a sacrifice bunt by Montesinos. Novak went to third on a passed ball and scored on an RBI ground out by freshman catcher J.C. Coban.
The Flashes answered with another run in the home half of the third. Junior center fielder Evan Campbell (Beloit, Ohio) cracked a leadoff single to right and moved to second on a wild pitch. Senior shortstop Jimmy Rider (Venetia, Pa.) followed by drawing a walk, and Campbell went to third on a sacrifice fly to right by Roberts. Redshirt junior third baseman Nick Hamilton (Avon Lake, Ohio) plated Campbell on an infield single to third.
Kent State's pitching began to settle in as redshirt sophomore left-handed starter Michael Clark (Akron, Ohio) sat down the side in the fourth and freshman righty John Birkbeck (Canton, Ohio) did the same in the fifth.
Kent State cut Penn State's advantage to two with a two-run fifth. Rider smashed a leadoff double to left center and scored one out later on a double to right center by Roberts. Hamilton made it three Kent State doubles in the inning when he plated Roberts with one down the left field line.
Birkbeck retired the Nittany Lions in order again in the top of the sixth, and Campbell made it a one-run game in the bottom half by launching a two-out solo home run over the right field wall – his third round tripper of the season and second in as many games.
Unfortunately for the Flashes, Penn State increased its lead back to three in the seventh as Snyder drew a leadoff walk and DeBernardis followed with a two-run homer over the left field wall.
Penn State tacked on its ninth run in the top of the ninth. DeBernardis placed a one-out single into left, stole second and scored one out later on a base hit to center by Novak.
The Golden Flashes made the Nittany Lions sweat out the final three outs by putting the heat on Penn State's bullpen in the bottom of the ninth. Roberts led off with a double to right to chase junior right-handed relief pitcher Neal Herring from the ballgame. Herring was replaced on the hill by freshman lefty Casey Kulina, who issued back-to-back walks to Hamilton and freshman catcher Tommy Monnot (Canton, Ohio). Junior Jason Bagoly (Austintown, Ohio) came on to pinch hit for Kent State one out later and delivered a two-run single to score Roberts and Hamilton and force the Nittany Lions to call upon junior right hander Evan Dixon to close out the contest. Unfortunately for Kent State, Dixon did just that, recording the final two outs to seal the victory.
Kent State looks to bounce back Wednesday (April 4) as it travels to Toledo to take on the Rockets in a 3 p.m. non-conference game at Scott Park.