By Scott Traweek, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State (5-16, 0-4 Big Ten) dropped its Big Ten home opener to Purdue (8-14, 1-3 Big Ten) on Saturday afternoon, falling 6-1 to the Boilermakers. The Nittany Lions struggled both offensively and defensively, but the pitching staff showed promise throughout.
For the 13th time this season, Penn State scored first, manufacturing a run in the first inning with strong base running and timely hitting.
Junior Steve Snyder singled with one out to put runners on first and second and then the Nittany Lions attempted a double steal.
Snyder was thrown out at second, but senior third baseman Elliot Searer reached third safely. Sophomore designated hitter J.C. Coban stepped in with two outs and reached on an infield single, scoring Searer to give Penn State a 1-0 advantage.
From that point on Purdue pitcher Jordan Minch settled in, throwing eight innings and allowing just one run on five hits with five strikeouts. The freshman tossed the vast majority of his offerings on the outer half of the plate and Penn State was unable to adapt on offense.
"He was throwing the ball on the outer half of the plate," said Penn State head coach Robbie Wine. "Ninety-five percent of [his pitches] were on the outer half of the plate and there were no adjustments being made."
Despite the result, the Nittany Lions saw their pitching staff perform well for the majority of the contest, allowing just four earned runs and never allowing more than two runs in an inning.
Starting pitcher T. J. Jann threw four innings and allowed two runs on three hits. After pitching well in the first and second innings, the sophomore struggled with his accuracy in the third and was unable to recover.
Nevertheless, freshman Nick Hedge entered the game in relief and pitched three and one-third innings of relief, allowing three runs - just one earned - with only one walk.
"Nick [Hedge] did a good job today," said Wine. "He threw strikes, only had one walk and he did his job."
Unfortunately it was the little mistakes that hurt the team the most. Penn State gave up a run in five different innings, two of them unearned, and the offense could not produce.
Senior Steven Hill will take the mound when the Nittany Lions return to action on Saturday at 2:05 p.m. for the second game of the series versus the Boilermakers.