Penn State baseball: Pitt upends Lions in home opener

From CDT staff reportsMarch 28, 2013 

— Penn State dropped its home opener on Wednesday night, falling to Pittsburgh 10-8 at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

The Nittany Lions (5-15, 0-3 Big Ten) outhit the Panthers 10-9, but were unable to come back after Pitt (16-6, 3-0 Big East) posted two runs in the ninth inning.

With the score fixed at 8-8 in the top of the ninth, Pittsburgh’s Eric Hess blasted a hit up the middle to allow A.J. Lardo to score and give the Panthers an edge. Casey Roche followed up with a consecutive single to center field, batting in Evan Oswald from third for a 10-8 lead.

With the Lions unable to score in the bottom of the inning, Pitt claimed the win with J.R. Leonardi moving to a 2-2 record on the season. The right-handed pitcher threw 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing five hits and striking out four.

Penn State opened the game with a five-run showing in the first, with senior Luis Montesinos earning his 50th career RBI in the process. As Montesinos reached on a fielding error, redshirt senior Elliot Searer crossed home plate to extend the Lions’ lead, with sophomore J.C. Coban able to score, as well, for a 3-0 advantage.

Freshman James Coates (Girard, Ohio) would step up to the plate with the bases loaded, ripping a base hit to center field to bring home Montesinos and sophomore J.J. White. It was the rookie’s 16th hit of the season and his eighth and ninth RBIs.

The Panthers began to chip away at the 5-0 lead, posting two runs between the second and third innings.

Penn State would respond in the bottom of the fourth, with redshirt junior Steve Snyder kicking things off with a base hit to right field. Snyder was able to advance to second on a sac bunt from sophomore Taylor Skerpon (Sayre, Pa.), and eventually rested on third after a passed ball with Searer up at bat. The senior hit a sac fly to centerfield for his seventh RBI of the season, allowing Snyder to advance home for a 6-2 lead.

Coming back with five runs in the top of the sixth, the Panthers moved the score to 7-6 following runs from Sam Parente, Elvin Soto, Stephen Vranka, Bennette Hill and Oswald.

Penn State answered in the bottom of the inning, with sophomore Aaron Novak tallying his 30th career run on a base hit to right field from Skerpon. Searer would follow with his fourth bunt hit of the season, allowing Coates to cross home plate and give the Lions an 8-7 lead.

Despite taking back the momentum in the sixth, a sac fly from Hill in the top of the seventh would bat in Parente to tie the contest. Pittsburgh’s two-run showing in the final inning would give the Panthers the victory, with Hess, Roche, Vranka and Hill leading their squad with two RBIs a piece. Oswald, Parente and Soto each came away with two runs.

Searer and Coates led the Lions at the plate, with the senior going 2-for-4 and the rookie going 2-for-3. They each collected two RBIs and a run. Skerpon, Coban and Montesinos each posted a run and an RBI, as well.

Eight different Lions saw the mound, with redshirt senior Cody Lewis (Laguna Niguel, Calif.) and sophomore Casey Kulina holding the Panthers scoreless in their relief efforts.

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