Baseball travels to Indiana for Big Ten opener

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State baseball team heads back out on the road this weekend, opening Big Ten competition against No. 29/22 Indiana on Friday, March 22. The conference series will begin at 4 p.m. on Friday, with Saturday's first pitch slated for 2 p.m. at the brand new Bart Kaufman Field. Sunday's contest will be aired by BTN and BTN2Go, with coverage beginning at noon from Bloomington.

Links: GameTracker - All contests / Listen Live - All Contests / BTN/BTN2Go - Sunday

Last Time Out: The Nittany Lions dropped to a 5-11 record following a tough doubleheader against Temple on March 17. Penn State held a 3.06 ERA as a team, falling in close contests of 4-2 and 3-2. Redshirt senior Elliot Searer (Lewistown, Pa.) led the Lions with a .571 batting average, going 4-for-7 over the two games and coming away with an RBI, his third double of the season and two runs scored. Competing in the second, extra-inning contest, junior Zach Ell (Plains, Pa.) continued his hit streak, going 2-for-4 to bat .500. Leading the Lions on the mound, junior Greg Welsh (Holland, Pa.) made his season debut in the 3-2 loss, firing 4.1 scoreless innings to keep Penn State in the game.

Lion Stats: Penn State is currently batting .258 as a team, with Searer leading the pack with a .375 average. The senior has collected 12 hits, six RBIs and 10 runs, and currently holds a .531 slugging percentage. Sophomore Taylor Skerpon (Sayre, Pa.) remains consistent at the plate, batting .347 with 17 hits and 10 RBIs to lead the team along with sophomore J.C. Coban (Boca Raton, Fla.). Posting 20 hits and seven multi-hit games this season, redshirt junior Steve Snyder (West Chester, Pa.) is batting just under .300 at .294, and has recorded eight RBIs and 11 runs.

On the mound, Welsh will make the fourth start of his career on Sunday, moving into the starter position as redshirt senior Dave Walkling (Nanaimo, B.C.) returns to the relief role. Walkling is second in the Big Ten with just 15 hits allowed in four games, and currently sits third in opposing batting average at .188. Senior Steven Hill (Colleyville, Pa.), expected to make the start on Saturday, currently holds a 4.44 ERA and has struck out 22 to lead the team. His 22 strikeouts is ninth-best in the Big Ten. Taking the mound on Friday is redshirt sophomore T.J. Jann (Westford, Mass.), who holds a 5.06 ERA after 10.2 innings and four appearances.

Scouting the Hoosiers: Indiana (15-3) is currently on an eight-game win streak, most recently topping Miami (Ohio) 11-2 and 15-1. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten with their 15 wins, as well as a .309 team batting average and a team ERA of 2.25. Seven squad members are currently batting over .300, including Kyle Schwarber who boats a .436 average. Schwarber leads the Big Ten in hits (34), RBIs (23), runs (22) and home runs (5). The sophomore most recently hit his fifth home run in the 11-2 win over Miami, going 2-for-3 and collecting three RBIs. Scott Donley, who sits with a .377 average, went 1-for-4, but still managed to bat in four runs in the contest. Also recording multiple RBIs in a single game, Casey Smith collected five in the 15-1 victory, going 3-for-4 to bat in one-third of his team's runs. Dustin Demuth recorded three RBIs and scored two runs, while Donley scored four times. This season, Schwarber, DeMuth (.394), Donley and Smith (.326) have combined for 103 hits, 72 RBIs and 57 runs.

On the mound for the Hoosiers, Joey DeNato holds a 2.88 ERA with a 2-1 record, striking out 19 this season. Aaron Slegers, making the start on Sunday, has also recorded a team-best 19 strikeouts and sits with a .169 ERA. Slegers recently competed in the 15-1 win over Miami, firing 3.0 scoreless innings with two hits allowed. Taking the hill on Saturday, Kyle Hart holds a 1.98 ERA with a 3-0 record after 27.1 innings. Coming out of the bullpen for Indiana, Scott Effross recently earned his third win of the season in the 11-2 victory and improved to a 0.51 ERA, while Evan Bell sits at 3.55 with a 2-0 record in 12.2 innings of relief.

Series History: Penn State is 39-30 in the all-time series against Indiana, tied at 15-15 when playing on Hoosier turf. Last season, Indiana took the series 2-1 at Medlar Field, with the Lions recording their most recent victory over the Hoosiers on March 24, 2012 by a score of 4-3 in extra innings.

Up Next: Following the Big Ten series against the Hoosiers, the Lions will return to Happy Valley for their first home contest of the season on March 27. Penn State will take on Pittsburgh at 6:05 p.m. at Medlar Field. The Lions will then host Purdue for another conference series, with action kicking off on Friday, March 29.

Season tickets for students are just $20, with Student General Admission tickets starting at $2 and Student Bleacher tickets at $1. Season tickets for Adult General Admission start at $63, while Adult General Admission tickets are sold for $4. For fans interested in the Diamond Club "In the Box" seats, single games start at $6 and season tickets will be sold for $99. Youth General Admission and Season tickets are the same cost as student tickets. Single game tickets can be purchased at the Spikes' Box Office or via the Tickets page on GoPSUSports.com.

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Last Updated March 22, 2013