Penn State Takes Down Purdue in B1G Home Opener

Story posted April 1, 2016 in Sports, CommRadio by Zach Green

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State Nittany Lions (13-12) defeated the Purdue Boilermakers (4-18) 3-1 on Friday night in the team’s Big Ten home opener. This moved the Lions conference record to 2-2 and pushed them above .500 for the first time since 2014. Ironically, they defeated Purdue to move to 13-12 back in April of 2014.

Penn State starting pitcher Taylor Lehman got into a bit of trouble in the top of the first, allowing two base hits that would put runners on second and third with two outs, but was able to get out of the inning by way of a groundout to shortstop.

Junior second baseman Christian Helsel would lead off the bottom of the third with a stand up double for the Nittany Lions. He would be advanced to third on a bunt for a base hit by freshman shortstop Conlin Hughes. Nick Riotto would then drive him home with a single up the middle, spotting the Nittany Lions out to a 1-0 lead, as the two left on base were not brought home.

Kyle Wood lead off for the Boilermakers in the fourth and would crush a hanging curveball to the base of the wall in left center field. Wood, who has nine home runs on the year likely would have had his total moved into double digits had the wind not been blowing in hard from left. He would eventually make it home on a suicide squeeze play as Purdue would use “small ball” to level the score.

Purdue’s starting pitcher Mike Lutz would be forced to leave the game after surrendering seven hits after three and a third innings with runners on the corners. Relief pitcher Gavin Downs would quell the damage by inducing a double play to get out of the jam.

Penn State’s starter Taylor Lehman would give way after allowing one run on seven hits and two left on base following six and a third innings to junior reliever Dakota Forsyth. This was a fantastic outing by the sophomore who has struggled at times this year, entering with a 1-5 record with a 5.03 earned run average.

Purdue would try to raise terror on the base paths with a double steal, and with the pitch being a passed ball attempt to come all of the way home from second but would be thrown out on a great effort by sophomore catcher Nick Graham to reach the ball and get it to Forsyth who tagged out the runner coming home.

With both starters gone by the seventh inning stretch, it would officially become a battle of the bullpens. In the top of the eighth, Forsyth would be pulled after walking two of the first three batters he faced. Penn State would bring on Jack Anderson in relief. The senior submariner who is normally the closer for the Lions was making his 84th appearance for the Lions, one shy of the program record. Anderson would induce a double play after a long at bat to bring the Lions to the plate in the bottom of the eighth.

Nick Haley would lead off the eighth with a double to extend his hitting streak to 10 games, matching a season high. He advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt by Greg Guers, and would come home on a deep triple to the wall by senior first baseman Tyler Kendall. Kendall’s hit eventually came to a stop in the nook on the outfield wall. This was the senior’s first career triple and it could not have come at a better time for the Nittany Lions. Kendall spoke after the game about the hit.

“Earlier today I was working with (coach) Ross on staying behind breakers a bit more,” said Kendall. “He left one up and I hammered it.”

Following the hit, Purdue would go back to their bullpen and bring in Brian Ghiselli in an attempt to quell the damage. It would not work as freshman centerfielder Jordan Bowersox would single off of the mound to bring home Kendall. That would be it for scoring, as Jack Anderson would strike out the side to record his first win of the year.

The Lions will be back in action for a doubleheader on Saturday against Purdue.

Zach Green is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. He can be reached on twitter @zgreen05 or by email at zag5035@psu.edu