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Cannon blast sinks Penn State

From electronic and staff reports
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East Carolina's Cannon fired when it counted Friday night. With two down in the bottom of the ninth, junior leftfielder Jay Cannon belted a home run over the right field fence to lift the Pirates to a 5-4 victory over Penn State at Clark-LeClair Stadium.

Cannon's solo shot was East Carolina's first offensive production since the third inning and salvaged a win that seemed on the verge of slipping away after the Nittany Lions (3-12) scored on an errant pitch in the top of the ninth to complete a comeback from a 4-0 deficit.

The Pirates (12-4) seized the early advantage before Penn State sophomore lefthander Joe Kurrasch got his bearings in the fourth and pitched five scoreless innings.

Junior leftfielder John Wooten led off East Carolina's half of the second with a single, stole second and came home on a single by senior catcher Zach Wright. Wright advanced on singles by designated hitter Drew Reynolds and Cannon and scored on a throwing error by junior shortstop Elliot Searer.

In the third, senior third baseman Corey Thompson and Wooten hit back-to-back singles to set the stage for two more runs. Sophomore first baseman Chase McDonald's single drove in Thompson, then Wooten scored on a sacrifice fly by Wright.

Penn State added a pair of runs in the fourth when freshman rightfielder Aaron Novak's two-run double brought in Joey DeBernardis and Jordan Steranka. DeBernardis, a senior first baseman, reached on a single and moved to third on a two-bagger by Steranka, the Nittany Lions' senior designated hitter.

Novak knocked in another run in the sixth, hitting his second double of the day to push DeBarnardis across the plate. DeBardardis led off the inning with a walk.

Penn State pulled even in the top of the ninth. Junior second baseman Luis Montesinos led off with a single through the left side, moved to second on a bunt by Searer and advanced to third on a groundout.

Montesinos scored on a wild pitch by Reynolds, who started the game as East Carolina's designated hitter before taking the mound to close out the final 1 2/3 innings.

Reynolds (1-0) gave up a hit and a run during his stint on the rubber and got credit for the win. Senior southpaw ace Kevin Brandt started and was touched for eight hits and three runs over six innings.

Freshman righthander Jeff Hoffman took over for Brandt at the start of the seventh and hurled 1 1/3 hitless, scoreless innings. In his previous appearance, Hoffman pitched four innings of perfect relief in the Pirates' 9-4 win over Louisville last Sunday in the DRASH Alabama Classic.

Kurrasch (1-1) went the distance for Penn State and took the loss after surrendering 10 hits and five runs, including Cannon's decisive homer.

The series between the teams continues with matchups today (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).

PAGE UPDATED 03/17/12 04:47 AM.

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