EAST LANSING, Mich. On Thursday, it was Jordan Steranka. Penn State had another senior step into the spotlight on Friday at Michigan States McLane Stadium.
Joey DeBernardis pounded Michigan State closer Tony Wiebers 1-0 pitch over the right field fence with one out in the top of the ninth inning to lift the Nittany Lions to a 6-5 win over the Spartans. It was the first home run Wieber has given up this season.
With the victory, Penn State remains in a tie for second place in the Big Ten standings. With Indiana defeating Ohio State Friday, the Nittany Lions will need a victory and an Indiana loss to to clinch a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament.
Cody Lewis pitched a scoreless eighth inning to earn the win. Dave Walkling picked up the save for the fifth straight game and extended his scoreless innings streak to 111/ 3 innings. The Nittany Lions (29-24 overall, 15-8 Big Ten) scored a pair of runs with two outs in the top of the first inning, when Steranka singled and later scored on JJ Whites RBI single. DeBernardis, who walked after Steranka reached base, scored on a bases loaded walk to give the Lions a 2-0 lead.
The Spartans (34-19, 12-11) cut their deficit to 2-1 in the fifth with a lead-off home run from Ryan Krill off of Penn State starter Steven Hill, who gave up the run on six hits in six innings of work.
Penn State extended its lead to three runs with two outs in the sixth, when Elliot Searer singled and Sean Deegan made Michigan State pay with a two-run blast to right-center.
After Hills exit, the Spartans jumped on the Lions bullpen quickly, rallying for four runs on five hits to take a 5-4 lead. The Lions, however, would come back for the 16th time this season.
Steve Snyder delivered one of the big hits in the top of the eighth, leading off the inning with a double down the left field line. With one out, Snyder stole third to set things up for Searer, who finished with two hits. The junior shortstop hit a sacrifice fly to center field, scoring Snyder to tie the game at 5-5.
Lewis kept the game in check at five with a scorelesss eighth. Wieber, one of the best closers in the Big Ten, was called upon to shut the Nittany Lions down in the ninth before being scorched by DeBernardis.
Walkling struggled as he attempted to knock down his fifth straight save, giving up a walk and a single to the first two Spartans he faced. Walkling got out of the jam to earn his seventh save of the season.
Penn State will meet Michigan State for the final game of the series at noon today.