Early Lead Evaporates as Baseball Falls to Purdue, 7-2
May 25, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Although Bobby Jacobs gave the Penn State baseball team an early lead with a two-run single in the top of the first, the Nittany Lions could not plate another run as Purdue came storming back in the middle innings to overcome its deficit and capture a 7-2 victory during the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament on a breezy Wednesday afternoon at Huntington Park.
With the setback, Penn State (32-21) will battle Minnesota during an elimination game on Thursday at 12:05 p.m. Meanwhile, Purdue (37-18) advances to face Michigan State in a second-round bout at 3:35 p.m.
Despite Jacobs' early heroics, the Nittany Lions mustered only six hits against the Boilermakers. Joey DeBernardis tallied the only extra-base hits for PSU after he clubbed a pair of doubles during the game. With that performance, he set a new single-season school record with 25 doubles, which eclipses Michael Campo's previous mark of 24 set in 2000.
Jacobs also finished the game with a pair of hits for PSU, while Elliot Searer and Sean Deegan both chipped in with one. Despite those performances, Penn State could not hold down Purdue as Stephen Talbott knocked in three for the Boilermakers, while Tyler Spillner added two RBI and a pair of runs scored.
In the top of the first, Penn State got off on the right foot as the squad plated a pair against Purdue ace Matt Morgan. On the first pitch of the game, Deegan roped a seed to right for a leadoff single. Five batters later, following a sacrifice bunt by Luis Montesinos and walks to Jordan Steranka and Mario Eramo, the Nittany Lions had the bags packed for Jacobs.
With two outs, the senior catcher turned on a 1-0 offering and laced a base hit to right, which allowed Deegan and Steranka to cruise home with the first two runs of the game.
Holding an early lead, John Walter looked sharp on the mound. Despite starting on relatively short rest after pitching game two against Michigan on Friday, the right-hander looked refreshed on the hill. He rolled through Purdue's lineup, retiring the first eight batters he faced, including an excellent defensive play in the third.
During the inning, Andrew Dixon tried to catch the Lions by surprise with a leadoff bunt attempt. Although the speedster placed it perfectly, Walter came charging off the mound, made a quick barehanded grab on a bounce, and fired across his body to cut down the runner by a stride. Later, although Purdue got its first base runner following a two-out walk, Walter quickly erased the threat after posting his second strikeout of the game.
Unfortunately, the Boilermakers eventually came around in the middle innings. In the fourth, Cameron Perkins poked a one-out double to right before Kevin Plawecki chased him in with a single to center. One inning later, Purdue came all the way back and erased its deficit with a three-run surge.
Spillner and Payton Bieker were both plunked by pitches before Talbott drove them both in with a one-out double to right center. Later, after he moved to third on a fly ball to right, Talbott came home with the third run of the inning on a wild pitch that squirted back to the screen.
Back in control, Morgan settled in on the mound and cruised from there. After allowing the two first-inning runs, the Purdue right-hander surrendered just three more hits and faced the minimum in the second, third, fourth, and fifth. He also struck out five during that span and benefited from a nifty double play.
With their ace doing his job, the Boilmakers came back to add three insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach. During the inning, Plawecki was hit to start the rally before Spillner unloaded on a pitch and fired a two-run homer onto the concourse behind the stacked fence in right. Later, Talbott punched an RBI double off the fence in left that gave Purdue a 7-2 cushion.
Holding a five-run edge, the Boilermakers turned to their bullpen in the ninth to close out the victory. Although the Nittany Lions put a pair on during their last trip to the plate following DeBernardis' record-breaking double and a walk to Eramo, closer Nick Wittgren came in and cut down the last two batters to seal the victory.
Walter (6-4) took the loss after allowing four runs on four hits in five innings of work. Morgan (6-2) picked up the victory after surrendering just two runs on two hits with eight strikeouts in eight strong innings on the mound.