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Penn State Baseball Sputters Against Purdue In 11-5 Defeat

Penn State baseball (13-19, 4-7) put up a fight against Purdue (22-8, 4-5), but it ultimately fell short against the Boilermakers in an 11-5 loss Friday night at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park.

Miscues and missed opportunities summarized the evening for Penn State, as a winnable game against a hot offense and hot pitcher slipped through the Nittany Lions’ grasp.

How It Happened

It didn’t take long for Purdue to get the scoring started in this one. The Boilermakers posted five runs in the first inning off Penn State starter Kellan Tulio on just two hits. They were aided by two errors by second baseman Derek Cease that directly resulted in one of the runs.

Entering today’s game, Penn State had a tall task taking on Boilermakers ace Jackson Smeltz, who was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week following a 13-strikeout performance against Indiana. The Nittany Lions appeared to have no trouble with the big-armed left-hander at the start, though. They were able to get two runs back before they even registered an out, courtesy of a leadoff base hit by Cole Bartels that was followed up by slugger Matt Wood’s sixth home run of the season.

After an uneventful second inning, controversy arose at Medlar Field in the third.

Tulio began to lose a bit of his control in the top half, walking two straight Purdue batters and surrendering a hit to Paul Toetz down the first base line. The umpires ruled that Bartels didn’t tag Toetz for the final out of the inning, which resulted in a run scoring and had Penn State head coach Rob Cooper irate. After a lengthy discussion between the umpires, the call stood, and Cooper continued arguing the call and was ejected within seconds.

Without their leader in the dugout, the Nittany Lions began to falter.

With Mason Mellott toeing the rubber for the Nittany Lions in the top of the fourth, Purdue found the scoreboard yet again, which was ignited by a triple off the bat of Evan Albrecht. He would then score one batter later off a wild pitch that Mellott sent behind the head of Sam Franco. One pitch later, Franco poked a looper into center field that Johnny Piacentino couldn’t handle for Penn State’s third error of the game, already matching its total in Thursday’s game. But, Mellott was able to escape the rest of the inning unscathed.

A second straight 1-2-3 inning from the Nittany Lions had the score at 8-2 entering the fifth inning. Purdue plated another run in the top half to make it 9-2 on Penn State’s fourth error of the game, and Cease’s third.

Penn State’s bats woke up in the bottom of the fifth with a double from Billy Gerlott down the left-field line on the first pitch of the inning. Bartels fought off a walk a batter later, and he and Gerlott would advance into scoring position on a Purdue passed ball moments later. Wood sent a deep sac-fly out to right-center field to plate Getlott, and then a wild pitch brought Bartels home to decrease Penn State’s deficit to 9-4.

In the top of the sixth, Carson Kohls took the mound for the Nittany Lions following a career-high 3.2 shutout innings against West Virginia on Tuesday. Purdue failed to score for the first time since the top of the second, and Penn State followed suit in the bottom half going three up, three down.

Kohls remained the pitcher for the Nittany Lions and forced another scoreless inning for the Boilermakers behind two strikeouts in the top of the seventh.

Smeltz remained on the mound as well for Purdue and appeared to be unfazed although eclipsing about 100 pitches. That was until Gerlott took him to deep center on a 1-1 count to dig into the deficit and bring Penn State within four runs.

Penn State had a golden opportunity with one out, the bases loaded, and the tying run at the plate later in the inning, but a Josh Spiegel strikeout and Piacentino lineout left the bases loaded and the Nittany Lions’ chances shattered.

Purdue tagged on two more runs in the top of the eighth via another walk and hit-by-pitch, this time delivered by Ryan Partridge. That was all the Nittany Lions could muster, as two three-and-outs were all they had left to give.

Takeaways

  • Matt Wood is a powerhouse. Seriously, can anyone slow this guy down? Facing off against one of the hottest pitchers in the conference right now, Wood finished the day going 2-for-2 with a home run, three RBIs, and a hit-by-pitch to help kickstart the Penn State offense.
  • Penn State’s defense needs some work. After three errors yesterday, the Nittany Lions followed it up with four today, with nearly all of them resulting in damage on the scoreboard. Although three can be credited to Derek Cease, the Nittany Lions as a team still rank second-to-last in the Big Ten in fielding percentage and errors.
  • Penn State did a decent job to record seven hits and five runs against Purdue’s ace Jackson Smeltz, especially considering what he’s been doing recently. However, the Nittany Lions weren’t able to find it themselves on the mound and cool down Purdue’s sizzling offensive attack like they did in Thursday’s win. The Penn State pitching staff surrendered seven walks, along with three hit-by-pitches, which Purdue capitalized on several times.

What’s Next?

Penn State is back at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park tomorrow on Saturday, April 16, for the rubber match against the Boilermakers. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m.

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About the Author

Zach Donaldson

Zach is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism. He is a writer for Onward State and serves as an editor for Penn State’s CommRadio. He hails from Downingtown, Pa., or in other words "just outside of Philly." When he's not watching or ranting about Philly sports, you can probably find him at the gym. If you like sports tweets, follow him on Twitter @zachdonaldson_ and all inquiries can go to [email protected]

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