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Baseball Battles No. 14 North Carolina On Wednesday

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – The Penn State baseball team visits No. 14 North Carolina for a non-conference matchup on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 4 p.m. at Bryson Field at Boshamer Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ACCNX.

The Nittany Lions, led by head coach Rob Cooper, are 7-3 after a 3-1 weekend in Cary to begin March. Penn State swept its Saturday doubleheader against Wagner (17-6) and Dartmouth (8-2), before splitting its series against Holy Cross, falling 11-5 on Sunday and winning 15-2 on Monday.

Season and single game tickets for the 2023 Penn State baseball season are available here. Season tickets are $75 for adults and free for youth (ages 12 and under).

The 2023 Penn State baseball season is presented by The Family Clothesline.

FOLLOW ALONG
ACCNX
Live Stats
Game Notes: Penn State
PROBABLE STARTERS*
Wednesday (4 p.m.) – PSU: RHP Steven Miller (1-1, 1.93 ERA) vs. UNC: TBA

*subject to change

LEADING OFF
Penn State meets #14 North Carolina for its first midweek game of the 2023 season.
The Nittany Lions match up for the 14th time between the schools. The last series was played in 2007 when Penn State earned a 3-2 win over No. 1 North Carolina in the Saturday game.
Penn State is coming off a 3-1 weekend with one win in each game against Wagner, Dartmouth and Holy Cross.
In the win over Wagner, Tayven Kelley, Grant Norris and Josh Spiegel all homered.
Daniel Ouderkirk struck out 11 batters in the win over Dartmouth, becoming the first Nittany Lion since 2019 with 10+ strikeouts in back-to-back starts.
In Monday’s win over Holy Cross, Ben Kailher hit a grand slam and drove in five runs, while Bobby Marsh launched a two-run homer.
Tayven Kelley tallied four doubles and a homer on the weekend.
Ouderkirk ranks second in the Big Ten with 25 strikeouts and is one of three DI pitchers with multiple starts of 10+ strikeouts and 1 or less earned run this season.

SCOUTING NORTH CAROLINA
Head Coach Scott Forbes is in his third year leading the program and 22nd season on the UNC coaching staff.
The Tar Heels, ranked No. 14 by D1Baseball, are 9-3 this season.
North Carolina has won five-straight games, including a three-game sweep over Stony Brook this past weekend.
UNC is batting .289 as a team, led by Tomas Frick’s .388 average. He also has four homers and 16 RBI.
The Tar Heels rank 11th in the country with 25 homers and eighth with 82 walks.
Mac Horvath has seven homers and 14 RBI, while Jackson Van De Brake has six homers and 16 RBI.
Outfielder Vance Honeycutt was selected first-team Preseason All-America by D1Baseball and owns four homers and 12 RBI.
UNC has a 3.39 staff ERA and is holding hitters to a .207 average.
Matthew Matthijs (1.93), Cameron Padgett (1.00), Ben Peterson (1.08) and Matt Poston (0.00) all have ERA’s under 2.00 while making five or more appearances.

AGAINST THE TAR HEELS
Penn State meets North Carolina for the 14th matchup between the programs.
The teams last played in 2007 in a three-game series in Chapel Hill, with Penn State earning a 3-2 win over No. 1-ranked North Carolina in the second game of the series.
Penn State played UNC in an NCAA Regional in 2000, winning both games on the final day of the regional to advance to the Super Regionals.

NITTANY LIONS RETURN EXPERIENCED PITCHING STAFF
The Nittany Lions welcome back an experienced pitching staff.
Penn State pitchers had a strong start to the 2023 season at No. 22 Miami.
The Nittany Lions’ starting pitchers, Travis Luensmann, Daniel Ouderkirk and Tommy Molsky, combined to throw 13.1 innings, allowing eight hits and four earned runs, while striking out 13 batters.
The three starters recorded a 2.70 ERA and held Miami hitters to a .170 batting average.
Penn State set a program record with 503 strikeouts in 2022 as six members of the staff recorded at least 40 strikeouts.
The Nittany Lions return 406 of their 503 strikeouts (81 percent) from last year.
Penn State is one of nine Power Five programs, and the only Big Ten school, returning 400+ strikeouts from last season.
Among Power Five schools returning 400+ strikeouts, only Wake Forest (92%) returns a higher percentage of strikeouts returning.
In 49 of 55 games last season, Penn State’s starting pitcher was a Pennsylvania native.
Penn State’s pitching staff takes a versatile approach with eight different pitchers recording both a start and a save in 2022.
Since 2016, eight Penn State pitchers have been selected in the MLB Draft, including Conor Larkin (9th round, Toronto Blue Jays), Kyle Virbitsky (17th round, Oakland A’s) and Bailey Dees (18th round, New York Yankees) in 2021.

LUENSMANN’S STRONG START
Junior Travis Luensmann has enjoyed a strong start to the 2023 campaign.
He has a 3-0 record and a 2.40 ERA and has limited opposing hitters to a .167 average.
Luensmann opened the season for the Nittany Lions, starting against Miami.
The junior fired five innings, allowing just one run on two hits, while striking out four and holding Miami hitters to a .125 average.
He followed that with five innings against Northern Illinois, giving up one run on four hits and striking out three and got the win against Wagner, allowing two runs in five innings and striking out five.
Luensmann entered the season as the No. 110 starting pitcher by D1Baseball in its preseason player rankings.

TRANSFERS PROVIDE SPARK
The Nittany Lions welcomed four transfers to the program ahead of the 2023 season and all four have had strong starts to the year.
Grad student pitcher Daniel Ouderkirk, a West Virginia transfer, earned his first win as a Nittany Lion in game two against Northern Illinois.
Ouderkirk struck out a career-high 11 batters in seven innings, giving up just one run and three hits.
Ouderkirk became the first Nittany Lion with 10+ strikeouts in a game since Kyle Virbitsky’s 12 strikeouts against Minnesota on May 29, 2021.
He followed that with 11 strikeouts in 5.1 frames against Dartmouth, joining Dante Biasi (13 vs. UMass Lowell, 3/15/19; 12 vs. Minnesota, 3/23/19) as the only PSU pitchers since 2004 with 10+ strikeouts in back-to-back starts.
Through three starts, Ouderkirk has 25 strikeouts in 15.2 innings and an opposing batting average of .161. His 25 strikeouts rank second in the Big Ten.
Fellow grad student Thomas Bramley has started all 10 games, splitting time between catcher, outfield and designated hitter.
Bramley is batting .333 with 12 hits, including three doubles and a homer, and has drawn a team-high 10 walks.
The Mount St. Mary’s transfer was tabbed as the No. 19 catcher in the nation in the D1Baseball preseason player rankings.
Grant Norris has started nine games at third base after transferring from Duke.
Norris hit his first homer as a Nittany Lion off the foul pole in game two against Northern Illinois and is batting .300 with two homers and 10 RBI.
Freshman Bobby Marsh, a Bellefonte native and transfer from Florida Atlantic, has played in six games and started two. He’s batting .333 with two doubles, a homer and two RBI.
Marsh launched his first career homer against Holy Cross.

BALANCED BATS
As a team, Penn State is hitting .315 (113-of-359) and has drawn 56 walks to contribute to a .414 on-base percentage.
Seven Nittany Lions own above a .300 average, eight Nittany Lions have at least 10 hits and four have at least seven RBI.
Tayven Kelley leads the team with a .375 average to go with a team-high 15 hits, including five doubles and four homers, 10 runs and nine RBI, and a 1.082 OPS.
After an 8-for-15 weekend in Cary, Johnny Piacentino is batting .351 with 13 hits and 10 runs, while Thomas Bramley and Billy Gerlott are both batting .333.
Grant Norris paces the team with 10 RBI, while Kelley, Norris and Kyle Hannon each have two homers.
Hannon leads the Big Ten with nine steals and ranks 10th in the country averaging 0.9 steals per game.

OPENING WIN OVER MIAMI
Penn State opened the 2023 season with a 9-5 win over Miami on February 17.
The Hurricanes were ranked 22nd in the D1Baseball Poll and No. 8 in the Baseball America rankings.
The Nittany Lions earned the program’s first win over Miami and collected the program’s first win over a ranked non-conference opponent since an 8-7 win over No. 21 Duke in 2019.
Travis Luensmann threw five innings in the win, allowing just one run on two hits and striking out four.
Penn State tallied 16 hits, including six Nittany Lions with multiple hits.
Billy Gerlott and Johnny Piacentino each had three hits, while Kyle Hannon and Tayven Kelley launched solo homers.

UP NEXT
The Nittany Lions return to Cary, N.C. this weekend for a four-game, three-day series against Brown. The series begins on Friday, March 10 with a 2 p.m. first pitch. Saturday will feature a doubleheader, beginning at noon. Sunday’s series finale will begin at 11 a.m.

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Pope in Hungary meets with Ukrainian refugees, Russian envoy

Pope Francis plunged into both sides of Russia’s war with Ukraine on Saturday, greeting some of the 2.5 million Ukrainian refugees who have fled across the border to Hungary during a public prayer service and then meeting privately with an envoy of the Russian Orthodox Church that has strongly supported the war.

Francis maintained the Vatican’s tradition of diplomatic neutrality during his second day in Budapest, where he’s on a weekend visit to minister to Hungary’s Catholic faithful.

Starting the day, he thanked Hungarians for welcoming Ukrainian refugees and urged them to help anyone in need. He called for a culture of charity in a country where the prime minister has justified firm anti-immigration policies with fears that migration threatens Europe’s Christian culture.

Speaking in the white-brick St. Elizabeth’s church, named for a princess who renounced her wealth to care for the poor, Francis recalled that the Gospel instructs Christians to show love and compassion to all, especially those experiencing poverty and “even those who are not believers.”

“The love that Jesus gives us and commands us to practice can help to uproot the evils of indifference and selfishness from society, from our cities and the places where we live — indifference is a plague —- and to rekindle hope for a new, more just and fraternal world, where all can feel at home,” he said.

Hungary’s nationalist government has implemented firm anti-immigration policies and refused to accept many asylum-seekers trying to enter the country through its southern border, leading to prolonged legal disputes with the European Union.

The conservative populist prime minister, Viktor Orbán, has said that migration threatens to replace Europe’s Christian culture. Orbán, who has held office since 2010, has hinged multiple election campaigns on the threats he alleges that migrants and refugees pose to Hungarians.

While Orbán’s government has consistently rejected asylum-seekers from the Middle East and Africa, around 2.5 million Ukrainians fleeing war in their country found open doors. Around 35,000 of the refugees remain in Hungary and have registered for temporary protection there, according to the U.N.

One who has chosen to stay was Olesia Misiats, a nurse who worked in a Kyiv COVID-19 hospital when she fled with her mother and two daughters on Feb. 24, 2022 — the day Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

First she went to the Netherlands, but high costs compelled her to move to Hungary, where she said she has found an apartment and given birth to her third daughter, Mila, who was in the pews Saturday with her mother and sister.

“Here it’s safe,” Misiats said of her new life. She said that she hopes to return to Kyiv one day, but for now she and her children are adapting. “I want to go back home. There it’s my life — it was my life,” she said. “But the war changed my life.”

Immediately after greeting and encouraging the refugees, Francis visited the Greek Catholic church next door, which has been providing aid to refugees. And then he met with the Russian Orthodox Church’s representative in Hungary, Metropolitan Hilarion, who developed close relations with the Vatican during his years as the Russian church’s foreign minister. The Vatican said the 20-minute meeting at the Holy See’s embassy in Budapest was “cordial.”

The Russian church’s strong support for the Kremlin’s war has rankled the Vatican and prevented a second papal meeting with Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and an ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Francis and Kirill had a 2016 encounter in Cuba that marked the first between a pope and the head of the Russian church. They had planned a second one in June, but the meeting has been indefinitely postponed over Kirill’s support for the war.

In a statement, Hilarion’s office said that he briefed Francis on the social and educational activities of the Russian church in Hungary and its relations with the Catholic Church here. He said that he gave the pope an Italian translation of a six-volume opus on the life of Christ.

Francis’ visit to Hungary, his second in as many years, is bringing him as close as he’s come to the front lines of the war. Upon arriving in Budapest on Friday, he denounced the “adolescent belligerence” that had brought war back to European soil and demanded the EU recover its values of peaceful unity to end

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As battle for Sudan continues, civilian deaths top 400

– Gunfire and heavy artillery fire persisted Saturday in parts of Sudan’s capital Khartoum, residents said, despite the extension of a cease-fire between the country’s two top generals, whose battle for power has killed hundreds and sent thousands fleeing for their lives.

With ordinary Sudanese caught in the crossfire, the civilian death toll jumped Saturday to 411 people, according to the Sudan Doctors’ Syndicate, which monitors casualties. In some areas in and around the capital, residents reported that shops were reopening and normalcy gradually returning as the scale of fighting dwindled after the shaky truce. But in other areas, terrified residents reported explosions thundering around them and fighters ransacking houses.

Now in its third week, the fighting has wounded 2,023 civilians, the syndicate added, although the true toll is expected to be much higher. The Sudanese Health Ministry put the overall death toll, including fighters, at 528, with 4,500 wounded. In the city of Genena, the provincial capital of war-ravaged West Darfur, intensified violence has killed 89 people, the Doctors’ Syndicate said.

Khartoum, a city of some 5 million people, has been transformed into a front line in the grinding conflict between Gen. Abdel Fattah Burhan, the commander of Sudan’s military, and Gen. Mohammed Hamdan Dagalo, who leads the powerful paramilitary group known as the Rapid Support Forces. The outbreak of violence has dashed once-euphoric hopes for a democratic transition in Sudan after a popular uprising helped oust former dictator Omar al-Bashir.

Foreign countries continued to evacuate their citizens while hundreds of thousands of Sudanese fled across borders. The first convoy organized by the United States to evacuate hundreds of American citizens from the conflict reached the coastal city of Port Sudan Saturday after a dangerous overland journey escorted by armed drones.

Britain meanwhile was ending its evacuation flights Saturday, after demand for spots on the planes declined. The United Arab Emirates announced Saturday it had started evacuating its own citizens along with nationals of 16 other countries.

Over 50,000 Sudanese refugees — mostly women and children — have crossed over to Chad, Egypt, South Sudan and the Central African Republic, the United Nations said, raising fears of regional instability. Ethnic fighting and turmoil has scarred South Sudan and the Central African Republic for years while a 2021 coup has derailed Chad’s own democratic transition.

Those who escape the fighting in Khartoum face more dangers on their way to safety. The route to Port Sudan, where ships evacuate people via the Red Sea, has proven long, exhausting and risky. Hatim el-Madani, a former journalist, said that paramilitary fighters were stopping refugees at roadblocks outside Khartoum, demanding they hand over their phones and valuables.

“There’s an outlaw, bandit-like nature to the RSF,” he said, referring to Dagalo’s Rapid Support Forces. “They don’t have a supply line in place. That could get worse in the coming days.”

Airlifts from the country amid the chaotic fighting also posed challenges, with a Turkish evacuation plane even hit by gunfire outside Khartoum on Friday.

On Saturday — despite a cease-fire extended under heavy international pressure early Friday — clashes continued around the presidential palace, headquarters of the state broadcaster and a military base in Khartoum, residents said. The battles sent thick columns of black smoke billowing over the city skyline.

But in other areas, residents reported signs that the cease-fire had taken hold.

“We are not hearing the bombs as we did before, so we’re hoping that this means they will go back to a political process,” said Osman Mirgany, a columnist and editor of the daily al-Tayar, who assessed it was safe enough on Friday to return home to Khartoum after seeking refuge in a far-flung village.

But Khartoum residents are forced to live side by side with armed fighters. Many RSF militants have moved into civilian homes and taken over stores and hospitals in the capital. The paramilitary group even transformed Mirgany’s newsroom into a makeshift base, he said. Residents also must cope without sufficient electricity and running water, among other basic supplies.

“For the past 14 days we’ve suffered from a lack of everything,” Mirgany said.

Residents in the city of Omdurman, west of Khartoum, have been waiting at least three days to get fuel — complicating their escape plans.

The U.N. relief coordinator, Martin Griffiths, said that U.N. offices in Khartoum, as well as the cities of Genena and Nyala in Darfur had been attacked and looted. Genena’s main hospital was also leveled in the fighting, Sudan’s health ministry said.

“This is unacceptable — and prohibited under international law,” Griffiths said.

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Will you marry me?’ Bulgarian woman contacts News 6 to expose international romance scheme

A 52-year-old Bulgarian woman currently working in Ireland is the latest target of international imposters who use stolen photos of a handsome Carnival Cruise Line officer in an online dating scheme that steals victims’ money.

Alessandro Cinquini, 29, who is known on dating sites as “Alex the Officer,” first contacted News 6 in March 2022 when he discovered his photographs were being used to fool women from Florida to India.

Vanya Dimova contacted News 6 after seeing our reports about Cinquini on the web.

She said an Alex imposter sent her photos and videos of lavish gifts that included a shimmering engagement ring.

Alessandro Cinquini has gone public to warn women across the globe that imposters have stolen his photographs from social media platforms to create “catfish” style profiles that offer love but target money.

News 6 sent 15 questions to her in advance so Dimova could translate and prepare responses during a Zoom interview.

She said she met the Alex imposter on Instagram back on March 26. According to Dimova, the conversation went from casual to romantic very quickly.

“After two days, he told me he was in love with me,” Danya told News 6. “Every day, he tell me he want to buy a house in Bulgaria and live together.”

Cinquini told News 6 the imposters have never stopped using his photos and he assured us he never contacted Dimova.

They have my old pictures from my old life,” Cinquini said. “Most of those pictures aren’t on my Instagram anymore. I canceled them years ago.”

He told News 6 he currently works as a fleet operation center watch officer for Carnival Cruise Line.

Danya sent News 6 a voice message from a man claiming to be Alex.

“I love you, I love you,” the man said.

The voice sounded nothing like Cinquini

Danya said that voice recording was the only evidence she has. She never met the imposter face-to-face or spoke to him on FaceTime or Zoom.

Danya said she became suspicious when the imposter asked her to pay the shipping charges for her gifts. He sent her a Bank of America receipt to prove his account had been frozen.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, romance scams in the U.S alone netted an estimated $1.3 billion last year, impacting 70,000 men and women.

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