Penn State Hosts Purdue for First Home Series
Penn State baseball is no stranger to slow starts.
Coming off a 29-27 (15-9 Big Ten) 2012 campaign in which they opened the season losing 14 of their first 17 games on the road, Robbie Wine’s squad was looking to get his team off to a hotter start this season, but this year has been more of the same. The Nittany Lions have crawled out to a 5-15 overall record and they host their first conference series of the season this weekend against Purdue at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park. Today’s first pitch is slated for 4:05 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday’s games begin at 2:05 p.m. and 1:05 p.m., respectively.
The Nittany Lions lost several key contributors from last year’s team. Most notably, their three power bats — Jordan Steranka (11 home runs, 40 RBIs), Joey DeBernardis (8 home runs, 36 RBIs) and Sean Deegan (12 home runs, 42 RBIs) — all graduated. Replacing that power has proven to be a struggle thus far for Penn State, as they have only hit .254 as a team and a combined five home runs.
Penn State was swept in their opening Big Ten series last weekend at Indiana before dropping their home opener to Pitt, 10-8, after jumping out to a 5-0 first inning lead.
Infielders Eliot Searer and Taylor Skerpon have led the way for Penn State offensively so far. Skerpon, a sophomore, has started every game at shortstop and is hitting .328 with 11 RBIs out of the two-hole. Searer, a senior, is hitting .364 with a team-high three doubles. Sophomore catcher J.C. Coban is hitting .291 with two home runs and 11 RBIs and junior outfielder Steve Snyder is hitting .286 out of the leadoff position in the lineup. Freshman outfielder James Coates has impressed, hitting .262 in 19 starts.
Sophomore T.J. Jann (1-3, 5.19 ERA) is expected to make the start today against the Boilermakers, with senior Steven Hill (1-4, 3.48 ERA) and junior lefty Greg Welsh (0-1, 3.68 ERA) taking the mound on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
Like Penn State, Purdue was also swept to open Big Ten play as they dropped three straight to Ohio State. Lefty Jordan Minch and righties Robert Ramer and Brad Schreiber are expected to take the mound for the Boilermakers.