Lions Crushed by Nebraska to End Season
The Penn State baseball team’s 2012 season came to a disappointing end on Thursday as the Lions were throttled by Nebraska 12-3 in a Big Ten Tournament elimination game.
The Lions got off to a good start with a leadoff home run from senior Sean Deegan in the bottom of the first, but the offense sputtered for much of the game against Nebraska’s Ryan Hander. Hander tossed 6.1 innings while allowing just two earned runs and striking out a career-high seven.
Penn State starter Steven Hill held the Cornhuskers scoreless until the fourth, when Pat Kelly singled in Richard Stock, who had doubled, t0 tie the game 1-1. In the fifth, Nebraska chased Hill from the game as they scored 3 more runs to take a 4-1 lead.
Nebraska continued to feast off of Penn State pitching in the sixth, putting five more runs on the board off of relievers Cody Lewis and John Walter and burying the Lions behind a 9-1 deficit. The Huskers added three more runs in the seventh, putting the game completely out of reach. In all, the Cornhuskers collected 18 hits on the afternoon.
The Lions did add two meaningless late inning runs on an RBI single from Steve Snyder in the seventh and on an error on a ball hit by Joey DeBernardis in the ninth. Snyder was the lone bright spot for the Lions, collecting three hits. Luis Montesinos and Alex Farkes also collected two hits each for Penn State.
Coming off of seven consecutive Big Ten series victories and winning 22 of their last 30 games to end the regular season, this result in the Big Ten tournament is extremely underwhelming. With a powerful offense led by seniors Deegan (11 home runs), first team All-Big Ten performer Jordan Steranka (11 home runs), and DeBernardis (8 home runs) along with solid starting pitching, the Lions were thought to be a threat to top seeded Purdue.
Before the throttling from Nebraska, the Lions bullpen collapsed on Wednesday and blew their tournament opening game in a 12-5 loss to Ohio State.
The Lions will lose their top three offensive performers in Steranka, DeBernardis, and Deegan next year, so it will be interesting to see who will pick up the slack for coach Robbie Wine’s offense. Freshmen Aaron Novak, JC Coban and JJ White started most of the season, so they, along with Luis Montesinos and Steve Snyder, should be key contributors. All three weekend starting pitchers — stud lefty Joe Kurrasch along with Hill and Walter — will also return next year for the Lions.
Steranka and DeBernardis, both four year starters, were two of the most productive players in the program’s history. It’s a shame that their careers ended in disappointing fashion after such an incredible run in the second half of the season.