By Christian Heimall, Staff Writer
Over the weekend the Hofstra Pride baseball team traveled to State College, PA for its first ever meeting with the Penn State Nittany Lions. After winning the series opener on Friday to push its win streak to six games, the Pride dropped the next three including a double-header sweep on Saturday to fall to 6-13 on the season.
In Friday's contest freshman David D'Errico pitched six innings, giving up just one run on five hits. The Pride continued its hot hitting, putting up three runs in the top of the first to give D'Errico a comfortable margin before making his first pitch. Hofstra roughed up Lions senior Mike Wanamaker for five runs on 10 hits in his six innings of work.
"I thought the bats did a great job and we were aggressive and I was real happy with our pitching performance," said second year head coach Patrick Anderson. "Every time that we put up a run [D'Errico] had a shut down inning. I thought it was a whole team effort."
Freshman third baseman Mike Walraven was two for three at the plate including two walks. Walraven had a fifteen pitch at bat in the fifth inning which ultimately resulted in a bases loaded walk to push the Pride's edge to 4-0. Hofstra would score runs in the fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh innings to ultimately win the game by a final of 7-1. It was Hofstra's sixth consecutive win, the longest win streak for the Pride since 1995 when they won eight straight.
On Saturday, the Pride saw that win streak snapped. Nassau County transfer Sean Monaghan pitched five strong innings, giving up no runs on five hits while striking out three batters. Penn State's Ryan Ignas opposed Monaghan. Ignas pitched a complete game (7 innings due to the double-header), giving up one run on four hits.
Ignas would pick up the win for the Nittany Lions who trailed 1-0 going into the sixth inning. In the sixth, Hofstra junior reliever Jeff Guthridge gave up a triple to Penn State senior Joey DeBernardis, who was later brought home on a sacrifice fly to tie up the contest.
In the seventh inning, the Nittany Lions rallied with two outs after sophomore Sean Deegan worked a walk. Hofstra freshman pitcher Andrew Barbarino then hit the next batter before Deegan stole third base to put the winning run 90 feet away. The next Penn State hitter reached on a low throw from Walraven that freshman Jared Hammer couldn't handle at first. The error gave the Nittany Lions a 2-1 victory and their fourth walk-off win of the season.
In game two of the double-dip, freshman Jared Rogers had a shaky start for the Pride but the bats kept Hofstra in position for a victory throughout. Through five innings of a shortened game, the score was tied 4-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Rogers came out to begin the inning but allowed the first two runners to reach base before being pulled in favor of fellow freshman Cody Normand. Penn State was able to score five runs to take a 9-4 lead and ultimately win by that margin.
Rogers (1-4) was saddled with the loss, giving up six runs on 10 hits in his five plus innings of work. Senior David Lutz (1-1) was able to pitch two innings in the relief to get the win for PSU after freshman John Walter went just four innings.
In the series finale on Sunday Hofstra looked as it they would be able to salvage a series split with the Nittany Lions but juniorpitcher Kevin Rigopolous was roughed up in his fifth start of the season and the Pride ultimately fell by a final of 8-4.
Rigopolous pitched just two innings, giving up six runs (four earned) in the loss. Hofstra committed four errors in the game, including two by freshman shortstop Matt Ford. Senior centerfielder John was 2-5 at the plate for the Pride with a run batted in but it was not enough for Hofstra, who dropped their third straight game after winning six straight.
Penn State's Neal Herring worked seven innings on the mound, giving up four runs (two earned) on nine hits. The Nittany Lions also had trouble defensively, committing three errors.
After dropping three of four to Penn State, Hofstra falls to 6-13 on the season. The Pride was supposed to travel to Morgantown, WV to take on the Mountaineers but rain in the area led to the series being cancelled. The Pride is next scheduled to be in action on Friday as it travels up to Boston to begin conference play with a three game set against the Northeastern Huskies.