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May 3, 2012
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State baseball (22-22, 8-7) heads to Minnesota this weekend for a crucial three-game series with the Golden Gophers. The Nittany Lions sit in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Big Ten standings and trail Minnesota by just one game. Friday and Sunday's contest will be played at the Metrodome while Saturday's game will be played at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.
Saturday's game at Target Field will air live on the Big Ten Network at 3:05 p.m. eastern time. All of this weekend's contests can be heard on ESPN Radio 1450 State College with Loren Crispell and Brian Tripp calling the action. Live stats will be available via a Gametracker link on GoPSUSports.com. In addition, fans can follow @psubaseball on Twitter for up-to-the-minute updates.
Penn State is coming off an exciting weekend, as it took two of three games from the Ohio State Buckeyes to creep up in the Big Ten standings. With two outs in the bottom of the 10th, runners on second and third and the Nittany Lions trailing by two runs on Sunday, senior Sean Deegan (Readington, N.J.) hammered a towering shot over the right centerfield wall to give Penn State an 8-7 victory over the Buckeyes. The first of Penn State's two victories came on Saturday afternoon with a 5-4 victory over Ohio State. The Nittany Lions trailed 4-3 heading into the bottom of the eighth, but put together a two-run eighth inning to retake the lead.
The Nittany Lions have won nine of their last 11 contests and reached the .500 mark for the first time this season this past Sunday. Penn State, which started the season 7-18 overall, has gone 15-5 in its last 20 games and 19-8 in its last 27.
Penn State will send sophomore Joe Kurrasch (San Juan Capistrano, Calif.) to the mound on Friday, followed by junior Steven Hill (Colleyville, Texas) on Saturday and junior John Walter (Haddonfield, N.J.) on Sunday. Kurrasch has allowed just five earned runs in his last six starts, dropping his ERA to 1.86 on the season. The sophomore earned a no-decision last Friday, as he went 6.2 innings. On Saturday, Hill came off his no-hitter with a solid seven-inning start against Ohio State, giving up four earned runs. Walter got back on track last Sunday, as he struck out seven batters over 5.1 innings to get the no decision as well. The trio through their last 12 starts have combined for a 7-3 record and a 2.45 ERA in 99.1 innings, while giving up just 71 hits and striking out 77.
Minnesota enters this weekend with a 27-20 overall record and a 9-6 mark in conference play, which is good for second place overall in the standings. The Golden Gophers are winners in four of their last five games and recently took two of three games from the Iowa last weekend in Minneapolis. Minnesota is hitting .260 collectively as a team and has four hitters in the lineup that are hitting at a clip of .320 or better. Dan Olinger is the best hitter in the Gopher lineup as he's collected a team-best 55 hits this season, including 10 doubles while driving in 26 runs. Minnesota doesn't have a whole lot of power in its lineup as it has just seven homeruns as a team. Matt Halloran leads the way with two homers. Minnesota will send RHP TJ Oakes (7-2, 1.51), LHP DJ Snelten (4-2, 2.19) and RHP Austin Lubinsky (2-3, 3.67) to the mound this weekend.
The Golden Gophers hold a commanding 35-21 edge in the all-time series between the two clubs. Penn State is just 11-21 in games played in Minneapolis, last winning there on May 16, 2008. Despite taking two of three from the Gophers in Happy Valley last year, Penn State dropped its Big Ten Tournament game to Minnesota later in the season.
Follow Penn State baseball on Twitter: www.twitter.com/psubaseball.