Sloniger Gets a Pair of Hits, Penn State Baseball Splits with Michigan State

Ryan Sloniger 3 PSU
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Penn State split a Big 10 baseball doubleheader with Michigan State Sunday winning game two 7-6 in walk-off fashion after dropping the first game, 5-2.

(Photo of Ryan Sloniger courtesy of Penn State Athletics)

In game one, Punxsutawney’s Ryan Sloniger had a pair of hits and scored a run in four times to the plate.

In the second game, the Nittany Lions rallied from a 6-5 deficit in the ninth inning when senior first baseman Tyler Kendall drove in the tying run and and scored when Jordan Bowersox hit a chopper to second that Dan Durkin, the MSU second baseman, waited on before fielding cleanly. Durkin, however, pulled the first baseman, Jordan Zimmerman, off the bag with his throw allowing Kendall to score from third with the winning run. Kendall had reached third on a single to right by Jim Haley.

It was a fitting conclusion as Penn State had lost the lead in the top of the eighth inning on an error.

With one out and runners on the corners, the Nittany Lions appeared to have successfully defended a squeeze bunt play by tagging out the lead runner attempting to score, but an errant throw attempting to nab the runner advancing to third sailed into the outfield and allowed not only that runner to score, but third baseman Justin Hovis, who originally laid down the bunt.

Right fielder Nick Riotto extended his hitting streak to nine games by going 3-for-4 with two RBI’s and three runs, including the game-winning run after reaching in the ninth with one out on a hit by pitch. Haley went 3-for-5, singling in the ninth with one out after Riotto reached. The duo accounted for six of Penn State’s 11 hits in the game. Kendall matched Riotto’s two RBIs, as well.

RHP Jack Anderson (3-1) pitched the final three innings to secure the victory, allowing two runs (one earned) on five hits and a walk with one strikeout.

The Spartans’ late 6-5 lead was the only lead that they enjoyed during the game. Riotto led the bottom of the first off with a single, and he scored after Haley followed with a single, designated hitter Greg Guers put down a sacrifice bunt and Kendall grounded out. Michigan State tied the game in the top of the second on a sacrifice fly by Hovis, but Penn State built a 4-1 lead with a run in the fourth and two in the fifth. Guers doubled to lead off the fourth and scored from third on an error, and Riotto and Bowersox added RBI-singles in the fifth.

However, Michigan State rallied with three runs in the sixth to knot the game back up. Durkin walked and designated hitter Brandon Hughes doubled before left fielder Taylor Grace singled to center to score both. Grace later scored the tying run on an error, and he led the Spartans in the game going 3-for-5 with three runs and the two RBIs.

The Nittany Lions went back ahead in the sixth, though, Left fielder James Coates led the frame off with a walk, stole second and advanced to third on a groundout before scoring easily on a two-out base hit by Riotto.

Penn State’s RHP Justin Hagenman was relieved after the sixth inning, allowing four runs (three earned) on seven hits and a walk with four strikeouts. Anderson then came on at the start of the seventh.

The seventh was scoreless for both teams before the Penn State miscues in the eighth gave the Spartans the lead. RHP Andrew Gonzalez (3-2) entered for Michigan State with one out in the seventh and did not allow any hits until the bottom of the ninth. After getting the first out of the final frame, he plunked Riotto in the foot and gave up back-to-back singles to Haley and Kendall.

The error on Bowersox’s chopper ended the game.

Gonzalez finished with a line of 2 1/3 innings, two hits, two runs (one earned) and the only three Spartan strikeouts of the game.

In game one, Sloniger and Coates both enjoyed two-hit games, but Michigan State scored four runs across the six and seventh innings to take a 5-2 victory over Penn State in the first game of a Big Ten baseball doubleheader Saturday in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. The series finale is now in progress.

Penn State out-hit Michigan State, 9-6, but stranded 10 runners and was unable to score again after taking a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Second baseman Connor Klemann and third baseman Haley each tallied RBIs, Coates and Sloniger both went 2-for-4 and Kendall reached on a pair of walks.

Durkin led the Spartans going 2-for-4 and was one of five to tally an RBI. RHP Ethan Landon improved to 3-1, allowing two runs on six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Michigan State gained its first lead of the game in the sixth on back-to-back sacrifice flies by designated hitter Brandon Hughes and left fielder Taylor Grace. Centerfielder Marty Bechina and Zimmerman had led the inning off with walks and, after a pitching change, both moved into scoring position on a bunt single by Durkin.

RHP Sal Biasi (3-4) was strong throughout the first five innings, striking out six, but ran into trouble in the sixth and was ultimately charged with three runs (two earned) on one hit and three walks.

Penn State took an early lead in the second inning on an RBI-single up the middle by Klemann that scored centerfielder Jordan Bowersox (Winter Springs, Fla.) from second base. Michigan State tied the game with an unearned run in the top of the fourth, but Penn State went back ahead in the bottom of the fifth on a sacrifice fly by Haley.

Penn State will next host Bucknell in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. It will be $1 dog night.

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