The action was fast and furious at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park over the weekend as the Penn State baseball team opened its home schedule with four games in three days. The Lions hosted Le Moyne for a three game set beginning Friday, beating the Dolphins in two out of three, then capped off the weekend with a victory against Albany on Sunday afternoon.
The weekend's results were a mixed bag for the Lions. Though winning three of four in a weekend is typically good news, it's less exciting when the loss comes to a subpar Division-2 team in the home opener, and the Lions learned that the hard way by falling to Le Moyne 10-6 on Friday.
Nevertheless, Penn State improved its record on the year to 15-7 ahead of a mid-week matchup against Kent State on Tuesday afternoon. After that, it'll be time for Big Ten play as Illinois comes calling in Happy Valley starting Friday.
We'll take a look back at the games after the jump.
Friday, March 25: Le Moyne 10, Penn State 6
The Lions bats were booming early in the home opener against Le Moyne as they staked themselves to a 3-0 lead in the first inning thanks to a 2-run blast by Jordan Steranka. Penn State starter Heath Johnson ran into major control problems, however, hitting four batters and walking two in 4.1 innings as he conceded five earned runs before his removal in the fifth.
Following his exit, things got little better as the bullpen gave up five runs. Penn State's defense was also shoddy as the Lions committed five errors, leading to four unearned Le Moyne runs.
"It was one of those games where nothing defensively or on the mound was clicking," Steranka said after the game. "It happens, but we've just got to to limit the walks and hit by pitches and errors and we'll be fine."
Steranka finished the game as pretty much all of Penn State's offense. After his homer in the first, he added a solo blast in the seventh and finished 3-5 overall with four RBIs and two runs scored.
Johnson's troubles overshadowed Steranka's big day, though, and skipper Robbie Wine wasn't shy about discussing his starter's poor outing after the game.
"He's a concern," Wine said. "He works hard in bullpens and then doesn't show up on the field. It's got to translate at some point."
Saturday, March 26: Penn State 10, Le Moyne 3
After a humbling at the hands of the Dolphins in the opener, the Lions came out hungry in game two and evened the series with Le Moyne in convincing fashion.
Four Penn State hitters finished with two hits in the team's first win of the series. Amongst them was Mario Eramo, who came up big with a 2-3, two RBI performance.
The big story was Penn State starter Steven Hill, who pitched a complete game, five-hit gem for his third victory of the season. Hill struck out seven and allowed only two earned runs in the game, playing stopper for the Lions on the mound.
"It's a nice confidence booster just to see that this is the first time I've ever gone nine," Hill said. "It's nice to see that you're body can do it."
Wine said the decision to send Hill out for the ninth wasn't very difficult, given how well he was pitching, but did say that his leash was short as the team wants to keep him fresh for Big Ten play.
Sunday, March 27 Game One: Penn State 10, Le Moyne 3
In the series finale, Penn State brought the pain offensively in the team's biggest offensive effort of the weekend.
The Lions 3-4-5 hitters, Luis Montesinos, Jordan Steranka and Joey DeBernardis each had three hits and scored seven of Penn State's runs. Further down, catcher Bobby Jacobs drove in three runs to propel the Lions to a big victory.
On the mound, John Walter battled through some control problems (he gave up five walks) to strikeout seven in six innings to earn his second win of the season. Mike Pierce finished of the game for the Lins with 2.1 scoreless innings as the Lions clinched a series win against the Dolphins.
Sunday, March 27 Game Two: Penn State 6, Albany 4
Things were touch-and-go for Penn State in game two of its double header Sunday as the Lions and Great Danes traded the lead in the early innings.
Penn State starter Mike Franklin gave up four runs, three earned, in his 3.1 innings of work, but the bullpen and the Lions' bats picked him up.
After Franklin left in the fourth inning, Geoff Boylston, Greg Welsh and Ryan Ignas combined to keep Albany scoreless the rest of the way and Ignas earned his third save of 2011.
At the plate, DeBernardis continued to do damage, finishing 2-3 with two RBIs and a run scored.
The Week Ahead
Penn State will take on Kent State in Ohio at 3:00 P.M. on Tuesday. The Golden Flashes are 12-10 so far this season and are coming off a series win against Toledo over the weekend.
Illinois rolls into Medlar beginning Friday at 6:35 P.M. The Fighting Illini are only 7-10 in the early going but have won their last three.