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April 15, 2011
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Despite a valiant effort in the later innings, the Penn State baseball team could not overcome its early deficit as the Nittany Lions fell to Purdue, 5-3, during a Big Ten battle on a windy Friday evening at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.
Sean Deegan, Michael Glantz, and Jordan Steranka all posted a pair of hits for Penn State (20-11, 4-3 Big Ten), but it was not enough to overcome the hot-hitting offense of Purdue (23-11, 4-3). The Boilermakers picked up three hits from David Miller and two each from Barrett Serrato and Angelo Cianfrocco to earn the victory.
Billed as a pitchers' duel, Steven Hill and Matt Morgan did not disappoint in the early going. Both starters retired the side in order in the first before Serrato popped a solo home run in the top of the second to give Purdue an early lead. Despite the damage, Hill never flinched.
In the third, the sophomore ace retired the first two batters on a pair of pitches before sending the third hitter down on strikes. He continued to silence the Purdue bats in the fourth and fifth, but Morgan matched him pitch-for-pitch.
During the first five frames, freshman catcher Alex Farkes provided almost all of the Penn State offense. He was the first Nittany Lion to reach after getting hit by a pitch in the second. Three innings later, he broke up Morgan's no-hit bid after drilling a single to left. Although Glantz followed with his own base hit, Morgan got Elliot Searer to pop up to end the threat.
Still grasping to a modest one-run lead, Purdue quickly tacked two more on the board in the sixth. During the rally, the Boilermakers pieced together a string of five consecutive singles, highlighted by RBI knocks from Cianfrocco and Miller. The squad nearly continued its surge, but Glantz made a nice play at short to flip a 6-3 double play that limited the damage.
Now trailing by three, Penn State came charging back. Deegan roped a one-out single to center before Luis Montesinos worked a free pass. Needing a big hit, the Lions got just that as Steranka fired the first pitch he saw down the rightfield line for a two-run double that pulled the hosts within one at 3-2.
With some nice momentum for the first time all day, the Nittany Lions put themselves in a great position to knot the game in the bottom of the seventh. During the rally, Farkes was hit by a pitch for the second time in the contest before Glantz crushed a double that rattled around in the leftfield corner. With a pair in scoring position, Elliot Searer worked a walk to load the bases with no outs.
In a bind, the Boilermakers called on reliever Blake Mascarello, who did his job perfectly. The junior southpaw sent the next two Lions down on strikes before the visitors summoned Nick Wittgren from the bullpen to end the threat. Although Montesinos made solid contact on a 2-1 pitch, the Purdue rightfielder was in great position to make the snag.
With Penn State showing some life, Purdue all but put the game away in the top of the ninth. After reliever Ryan Ignas sent the Boilermakers down in order during his first inning of work, the squad got to the junior right-hander a bit in his second frame. Following a two-base error to open the inning, David Miller laid down an incredible bunt that hugged the third base line before the ball squeaked past the bag in fair territory to put runners on the corners.
David Blount followed with his own bunt as he pushed a roller to the right side that plated the first run of the inning. One batter later, Tyler Spillner stretched Purdue's lead to three after dunking a single to center, which gave the squad a 5-2 advantage.
Refusing to go down quietly, the Nittany Lions put together one last rally in the bottom of the frame. Similar to Purdue's surge in the top half, the inning started with a two-base error. Although relief ace Nick Wittgren struck out the next two batters, Sean Deegan laced a single through the right side of the infield that chased home Glantz and pulled the squad back within two.
Unfortunately for the Lions, Wittgren settled right back in and struck out the final batter to earn his eighth save of the season. Matt Morgan (4-1) picked up the victory after allowing two runs on four hits over six innings of work. Steven Hill (4-2) took the loss despite allowing just three runs during his seven innings on the mound.
The two teams will continue the series tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on the Big Ten Network, and fans can catch a fireworks display after the contest.