WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) – Purdue baseball’s bats were quiet late in the game in a pair of one-run losses to Penn State, 2-1 and 6-5, in doubleheader action at Alexander Field Saturday afternoon.
The Nittany Lions (15-13, 4-0 Big Ten) pushed their win streak to six straight games and ended the Boilers’ streak of six consecutive series wins in the head-to-head history. Penn State also assured itself of its first series win in West Lafayette since 2003. PSU had not won consecutive games against Purdue since 2007.
The Boilermakers (5-21, 1-4 Big Ten) managed just one hit in game one, but still had plenty of chances to take control of the game behind a quality performance from starting pitcher Jordan Minch, who worked 7 2/3 innings of two-run ball and struck out a season-high seven. Purdue pitcher struck out 17 batters on the day.
The Nittany Lions scored all six of their runs in game two in the second inning. It marked the third time this week an opponent put up a six spot on the Boilers. Purdue got back in the game with a four-run fourth, its biggest rally of the season.
Relief pitchers excelled for both teams. Matt Gibbs (4 2/3 innings) and Joe Eichmann (3 1/3 innings) teamed up for eight innings of one-hit relief for Purdue. Gibbs gave the Boilers a chance to rally in game two after PSU scored six times against starter Gavin Downs (1-4). It was the junior’s longest outing as member of the Purdue pitching staff. Eichmann appeared in both games and retired all 10 batters he faced on the day.
Penn State’s Dakota Forsyth (2-1) escaped a bases-loaded jam with no outs in game one to keep the game tied, 1-1. He did not give up a hit and retired the final eight batters of the game to close out the win. Sidearmer Jack Andersen pitched over a single in each of his three innings of relief to close out game two.
Brandon Krieg had Purdue’s only hit in game one and singled to open an inning twice in the nightcap. He extended his career-best hitting streak to 11 consecutive games. Sean McHugh walked twice in game one and had a pair of hits in game two to extend his reached safely streak to 16 consecutive games. Kyle Wood extended his reached-safely streak to 12 straight games, but Conner Hudnall’s streak ended at the same length.
The series finale is set for noon Sunday. It will be televised live by the Big Ten Network.
Game One Recap:
Minch (1-5) did not give up a hit until the fifth inning after retiring 14 of the first 15 batters he faced. Unfortunately, PSU’s first hit tied the game. After getting hit by a pitch with two outs, Aaron Novak took second on a delayed steal. He scored on Nick Riotto’s seeing-eye single up the middle.
Purdue had the bases loaded with no outs when Wood lined into a double play at first base that was nearly a triple play. J.J. White snagged the line drive that could have been a two-run single had it passed him.
The Boilermakers also left a runner in scoring position in each of the first three innings, scoring their only run on a sacrifice fly from Sean McHugh in the bottom of the third.
A leadoff single from Greg Guers, a sacrifice bunt and a double down the left field line from Jim Haley gave PSU its first lead in the top of the seventh. Eichmann got out of a bases-loaded jam an inning later by retiring the first batter he faced and has now stranded 20 of 23 inherited base runners this year.
Purdue had a runner on third with less than two outs in the second and third innings but was unable to score. Penn State starter Tim Dunn gave Purdue plenty of chances by issues five free passes (3 walks and 2 HBP) and committing two throwing errors on failed picked off chances over five-plus innings, but he got the key outs when he needed them in lefty-lefty matchups with Jack Picchiotti and Hudnall.
Game Two Recap:
The Nittany Lions had five consecutive hits from the bottom half of their lineup during the second-inning rally. James Coates later punctuated the rally with a three-run homer into the right field bullpen. Penn State only had one hit the rest of the game, but Ian Parvin (2-1) and Anderson teamed up for 5 1/3 innings of one-run relief to lead their team to victory. Starter T.J. Jann retired the first nine batters of the game in order but didn’t make it through his second time through the lineup.
Purdue scored three times with two outs in the fourth inning thanks to run-scoring hits from Kyle Johnson, Picchiotti and Jordan Lewis. Johnson led the way with three hits in the nightcap, singling in his final three at-bats.
The Boilermakers had their leadoff man aboard in three of the final four frames but couldn’t capitalize. The next batter grounded into a double play in both the sixth and seventh innings. Lewis opened the ninth with a single but his pinch runner Jeff Evak was stranded at second base.
McHugh doubled in the bottom of the fifth and scored on Johnson’s two-out single. Lewis doubled home a run in the fourth inning, but Picchiotti was unable to score from first base with two outs on the fly ball over the right fielder’s head.
Gibbs entered the game with runners on second and third and one out in the top of the third. Wood threw out a runner at the plate on a ground ball to first base and a foul pop up to McHugh ended the threat. Gibbs later retired the final eight batters he faced.