Penn State falls in extras to Purdue

Story posted March 30, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Bradford Conners

After falling behind 4-0, the Penn State Nittany Lions (5-17, 0-5 Big Ten) fought back in the late innings to send Saturday’s matinee into extras, but the resilient Purdue Boilermakers (9-14, 2-3 Big Ten) came away from Medlar Field with a 5-4 victory in 10 innings.

With Steven Hill on the mound for Penn State and Robert Ramer toeing the rubber for Purdue, neither side was able to muster anything offensively in the first three innings. However, during their second turn through the lineup, the Boilers were able to figure out the Nittany Lions’ ace.
With one out, Purdue’s cleanup hitter Angelo Cianfrocco drew a walk, and Jack Picchiotti followed with a single to left.

Then, coming off of a two-hit, two-RBI performance in Purdue’s Friday night win over Penn State, Kyle Johnson stayed hot by lining an RBI double into the right-centerfield gap. Next, with runners on second and third, Conner Hudnall beat out an infield single to give the Boilers an early 2-0 lead.

Hill made it through the rest of the fourth inning unscathed, but he ran into more trouble in the fifth. After loading the bases with one out, Hill battled back and found himself one strike away from getting out of the jam. However, disaster struck when a wild pitch sent Penn State catcher J.C. Coban scrambling to the backstop to retrieve the ball.

Not only was Coban’s throw to the plate too late to get the runner sprinting home from third, but the ball ricocheted off of the catcher’s mask, which was lying in the vicinity of home plate. That enabled the runner on second base to come around and score as well, giving Purdue a 4-0 advantage.

The Nittany Lions answered back in their half of the fifth, as Ryky Smith delivered a leadoff double. Then, Sam August hit a grounder to the right side to advance the runner to third, and Tyler Kendall got Penn State on the board by knocking in Smith with a sac fly to center.
Hill allowed a single and a walk in both the sixth and seventh innings, but he prevented the Boilermakers from widening their lead and exited the game with his team trailing 4-1. In his seven innings of work, Hill allowed four runs---three of them earned---and surrendered eight hits and four walks while striking out two.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Nittany Lions continued to inch closer. With two outs and a runner on second, Kendall lined a ball to left field that was misplayed by Stephen Talbott. James Coates crossed the plate on Kendall’s RBI double, and Penn State cut the deficit to 4-2.
Purdue’s starter Robert Ramer was pulled after the seventh inning. In a very strong outing, he gave up two runs on five hits while notching three punchouts.

Purdue threatened to tack on an insurance run in the top of the eighth, as the Boilers had two runners in scoring position with two outs when Dave Walkling replaced Cody Lewis on the mound. After walking Talbott to load the bases, Walkling shut the door by sending Sean McHugh down on strikes.

Penn State had a pair of base hits off of Purdue’s set-up man Mike Lutz in the eighth, but the Nittany Lions were unable to draw any closer. After Walkling pitched a scoreless ninth for Penn State, it set up some drama in the bottom of the ninth inning.

With Patrick Kenney in to try to close the game out for the Boilers, Ryky Smith led off with a single---his third hit of the day---and August drew a walk to put runners on first and second with no outs. Purdue coach Doug Schreiber had seen enough, as he decided to make a pitching change and put the game in the hands of Brett Andrzejewski.

A well-placed bunt from Kendall put two runners into scoring position, and Penn State coach Robbie Wine decided to call upon Luis Montesinos to pinch hit with the game on the line. Coming in cold off the bench, Montesinos came through with a single through the hole at short.
Penn State took a chance by waving home pinch runner Alex Farkes, and in a very close play, Farkes just managed to avoid the catcher’s tag to even the score at 4. Andrzejewski recovered to make it through the rest of the inning, sending the game to an extra frame.

After the game, Wine would praise his players for continuing to battle even with the odds stacked against them.

“We could have rolled over and we didn’t,” he said. “We’re fighting and that’s what we’re made of.”

In the top of the tenth, Walkling looked to be on cruise control, but with two men down and no one on base, Purdue unleashed a bit of two-out magic. After Jake Hansen drew a walk and Talbott was plunked by a pitch, McHugh stepped up to the plate with runners on first and second and sent Walkling’s pitch to left field for a clutch basehit. Hansen scored without a throw, and Purdue retook the lead, 5-4.

Andrezejewski had to face the heart the Nittany Lions’ order in the bottom of the tenth, but he made it look easy, sending Penn State down 1-2-3 to give Purdue its second win of the weekend.
Even though Penn State came up short in a roller coaster-type game, Robbie Wine was pleased to see his team put forth a much more spirited effort than it did in its 6-1 loss on Friday night.

“There was some energy and determination and frustration. Emotions were coming out again,” Wine said. “I think it’s a sign of good things to come.”

Andrezejewski picked up the victory in relief for the Boilermakers to improve to 1-1 on the season, and Walkling took the loss for the Nittany Lions, dropping his record to 1-2.
Purdue will look to finish off a sweep of Penn State tomorrow on Easter Sunday. Greg Welsh will get the ball for the Nittany Lions, and he will be opposed by Brad Schreiber for Purdue. The first pitch is set for 11:05 a.m., and the game can be heard right here on ComRadio.

Bradford Conners is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email btc5082@psu.edu.