Feb. 19, 2012
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The University of Cincinnati baseball team ended the final day of the Big Ten/BIG EAST Challenge with a 5-3 loss to Penn State University on Sunday at Walter Fuller Complex Field No. 3.
Cincinnati held a 3-2 for the majority of the ballgame, but Penn State rallied for three runs on five hits in the top of the eighth inning to take a 5-3 lead it never surrendered.
Senior OF/C Braden Kline (Warsaw, Ind./Warsaw Community) led the Bearcats offense after he produced a career-high four hits in five at-bats.
The margin of defeat prove frustrating considering the fact that Penn State scored two runs in the top of the second inning without recording a hit.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Christian McElroy (Middletown, Ohio/Monroe/Sinclair CC) made his first start for the Bearcats since Feb. 21, 2010 at Florida Atlantic when he suffered an arm injury after pitching 1.1 innings.
McElroy’s stint did not last any longer than his previous UC start after having problems finding the strike zone against Penn State on Sunday. He was pulled with one out in the top of the second after walking the bases loaded.
Junior left-hander Thomas Gentile (Westerville, Ohio/St. Francis DeSales) entered the game for McElroy and struck out the first batter he faced after getting to a full count. The second batter he faced also got into a full count, but this time Gentile threw ball four to let Penn State score its first run. The next batter reached base on an infield error, allowing a second PSU runner to score.
Cincinnati quickly tied the score 2-2 after plating two runners in the bottom of the second. Kline led off with a double down the left-field line. Two batters later, senior catcher Jake Saylor (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton/Paradise Valley CC) smacked a double to right-center field to drive in Kline. After senior second baseman Sam Vandenheuvel (Chandler, Ariz./Hamilton/Mesa CC) walked two batters later, sophomore outfielder Ronald Cotton (Florence, Ky./Boone County) drove him in with an RBI single that gave UC its second run.
The Bearcats gained the lead in the third inning when, after back-to-back singles from sophomore DH Justin Glass (Fort Wayne, Ind./Carroll) and Kline, senior first baseman Nic Spence (Victoria, Australia/St. John’s/Central Arizona CC) hit an RBI groundball to the right side of the infield that allowed Glass to score.
Both teams were in the midst of a pitching duel for the next several innings as neither team could generate any offense until Penn State’s big three-run inning in the eighth.
UC’s best chance to tie the score occurred in the bottom of the eighth when the Bearcats loaded the bases after sophomore shortstop Matt Williams (Mason, Ohio/Cincinnati Hills Christian) walked with two outs. However, in the next at-bat, junior outfielder Jake Proctor (Cincinnati, Ohio/Oak Hills) struck out looking to end the inning.
Cincinnati next plays 10 a.m. Friday when it faces BIG EAST foe Georgetown in Winston-Salem, N.C. on the opening day of the Wake Forest Tournament.