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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State sent 12 batters to the plate in a nine-run fifth, but had to hold off the Columbia baseball team, 11-7, in the first of a four-game series. The Lions fell to 1-12 on the year.
The Nittany Lions (8-11) struck first in the bottom of the third. Consecutive singles and a wild pitch with two outs brought up the dangerous Willie Burger. Penn State’s leader in RBI added two more to his season total with a single to right and gave his club a 2-0 advantage.
Randell Kanemaru gave Columbia the lead with one swing of the bat in the fifth, delivering a three-run blast for his third homer of the season. However, things came unraveled for the Lions in the bottom of the stanza.
A nice relay from AJ DiFillipo in left to cutoff man Joe Engel to catcher Lane Robinette prevented one run from coming in, but the Nittany Lions were just getting started. A four-pitch walk put two men on for Burger, who drove in another score with a two-bagger to the gap in left-center. The next batter, Jordan Bowersox cleared the bases with a single to put Penn State back in front.
Another double and walk filled the base paths and a throwing error allowed all three runners to cross the plate to blow the game open. With Christian Helsel on third after the miscue, Ryan Sloniger singled down the rightfield line to extend the margin to 9-2. Joe Weisenseel added another knock and stole second to put two on for Nick Riotto, who tacked on two more after finding room through the left side.
The Lions loaded the bases in the top of the sixth after two walks and an error. Julian Bury rolled a ball to the pitcher and legged out an infield single to plate Liam McGill. Ben Porter then came through with a two-run single to center to pull Columbia within 11-6. In the ninth, the Lions closed within four after a leadoff hit by Shane Adams and an RBI single by McGill, but a double play dashed any hopes of a comeback.
The trio of Leo Pollack, Ryan Marks and Jordan Chriss combined to throw 3.2 strong innings of relief and allowed just three baserunners after Penn State’s big fifth. Kanemaru was 2-for-3 and has reached safely in 14 consecutive games.
Weisenseel went 3-for-3 with a pair of runs scored and a walk. Sal Biasi fanned eight in five innings and surrendered just two hits, both to Kanemaru, to improve to 3-2 on the year.
Columbia and Penn State will play a doubleheader Saturday, March 25. First pitch of game one is slated for 1 p.m. The nightcap will begin approximately 30 minutes after the completion of the opener.