Punxsy’s Sloniger Hits First Career Homer Run in Penn State Win at Rutgers

Ryan Sloniger 3 PSUPISCATAWAY, N.J. – Six different Nittany Lions tallied an RBI and senior Jack Anderson tied a Penn State record with his 22nd career save, as Penn State rallied past Rutgers and hung on for a 7-5 victory in Big Ten baseball action Sunday afternoon at Bainton Field.

(Photo courtesy Penn State Athletics)

Rutgers 20-20 (5-7 Big Ten) jumped out to a four-run lead in the first inning, but Penn State (24-17, 9-6 Big Ten) scored the next seven runs over the second, third and fourth innings. The Scarlet Knights added a run in the fifth, but it was the final run scored in the game.

Anderson (10) pitched the final 2 1/3 innings striking out five. The outing was not without drama, as Anderson walked the first two batters of the ninth, and after striking out the third batter, walked the next one to load the bases. He struck out another batter for the second out and, after battling into a full count, got the next batter to swing at strike three to end the game.

In addition to extending his Penn State record for career appearances with his 91st, Anderson earned his career-high 10th save of the season to move within one of the single-season record.

Both teams recorded nine hits but none of Rutgers’ went for extra bases. For Penn State, centerfielder James Coates (Girard, Ohio) and freshman catcher Ryan Sloniger (Punxsutawney, Pa.) both homered, and third baseman Jim Haley (Upper Darby, Pa.) went a game-high 3-for-5 with a two-RBI double. Coates’ homer was his career-best third of season and ties him for the team lead. Sloniger’s was his first and the first by a Penn State catcher since 2013.

Freshman RHP Justin Hagenman (6-1) grinded through six innings, allowing the five Rutgers runs (four earned) on seven hits and two walks with one strikeout. He becomes the first Nittany Lion to reach six wins in a season since two did in 2011.

Hagenman struggled in the first inning, surrendering all four earned runs. Right fielder Tom Marcinczyk and centerfielder Jawuan Harris drove in a run each in consecutive at-bats, and then with two outs, second baseman John Jennings dropped a pop-up in between shortstop and left field that was misplayed to score two more runs.

The Nittany Lions scored the next seven runs starting with Coates’ solo shot in the second with two outs. The Lions went ahead in the third with four runs. Sloniger and right fielder Jordan Bowersox (Winter Springs, Fla.) singled and walked, respectively, to lead off the frame, and after both were sacrificed a base, Haley followed with a two-run double to left field. With two outs, designated hitter Tyler Kendall (Boynton Beach, Fla.) slapped a single the opposite way to right to plate Haley, and he advanced to second on the throw home. It proved to be a crucial base as first baseman Willie Burger (Lancaster, Pa.) went the opposite way as well, poking a single through the right side to score Kendall from second.

Sloniger blasted a home run over the right field wall with one out in the fourth for a 6-4 advantage. The Lions went on to load the bases and left fielder Greg Guers (Langhorne, Pa.) scratched another run across, hitting into a fielder’s choice that scored Bowersox for a 7-4 lead.

Bowersox reached in all four plate appearances and scored twice, drawing three walks and one hit by pitch.

Rutgers got a run back in the fifth inning on a sacrifice fly by Harris, but it proved to be the game’s final run.

RHP Christian Campbell (1-3) suffered the loss, allowing five runs on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts.

Penn State will next host Kent State Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. It will be both $1 hot dog night and Champions Night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, as Penn State’s women’s soccer and wrestling teams will be honored for their NCAA National Championships, and many others will be recognized for individual accomplishments.

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