Nittany Lions Down Pack, 5-3
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Penn State used a three-run sixth inning to beat No. 22 NC State, 5-3, on Saturday, Feb. 10, at the Carolina Classic in Chapel Hill, N.C. Shaina Ervin (0-1) took the loss, while Jackie Hill (1-0) picked up the win. With the loss, NC State moves to 1-1 on the season, while Penn State climbs to 1-1.
Penn State drew first blood in the bottom of the third as Ashley Esparza hit a two-out double, scoring Ashley Griffith from first. Danielle Kinley followed with a walk before Jen Acunto beat out a grounder to third for a base hit, moving both Esparza and Kinley up a bag. With the bases loaded and the Nittany Lions threatening to blow the game open, Shaina Ervin fanned Jenn Reynolds to save the inning.
Miranda Ervin drew a walk to start the fourth for the Pack and was replaced by Krsytal Hawkins on the base path, who advanced to second as Abbie Sims was tagged out on a sacrifice bunt. Jennifer Patterson then collected a pinch-hit walk and was replaced at first by Beth Poore. Shaina Ervin sent a grounder to second, who tagged out Poore, and tossed the ball to first base for the double play to end the Pack’s threat.
Kristine Bechtholdt doubled to right-center to start off the top of the fifth for NC State. Blair Harkey followed with a single to left, advancing to second on a bobble, while Bechtholdt moved to third. With a full count, Heather Gelbard drove a Reynolds pitch over the fence in right-center for a three run blast, putting the Pack up 3-1.
Penn State answered the Pack’s rally in the bottom half of the inning as Jen Williams reached on a bunt and moved to second on a wild pitch. Esparza followed with a walk. Kinley then singled to left, scoring Williams and pushing Esparza to second. Jackie Hill then walked. Facing a 2-0 count in favor of the batter, Shaina Ervin sent in three consecutive strikes as Hollee Haines went down swinging to end the inning with the score still in NC State’s favor, 3-2.
In the sixth, Penn State got the brief rally that it needed, as Kayce Zielinski singled through the right side to start the bottom half of the inning. Following two strikeouts, Shaina Ervin walked the next three batters, sending the tying run across the plate. Jen Acunto then singled, scoring two runs and moving Kinley to third. At that point, Abbie Sims moved to the circle for the Pack and collected the third out by striking out Hill, but the damage had been done as Penn State took the lead for good, 5-3.
NC State will resume play against Gardner-Webb today at 3 p.m.