Baseball set for first Big Ten road test of the season

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- After playing seven of its last nine games in the comforts of Medlar Field at Lubrano Park, the Nittany Lion baseball team hits the road again. Four of the next five weekend series are on the road, starting with this weekend’s trek to West Lafayette for a three-game series vs. Purdue. Friday’s game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. with Saturday’s contest following at 2 p.m. The third and final game is slated for a noon start on Sunday.

Watch Live on BTN: Two of the three games in the weekend series will be broadcast live on BTN. Friday’s game one scheduled for 6:30 will be on the network, as will Sunday’s finale at noon. The two games are the first of three Penn State baseball regular season games that will air on BTN, with the third coming on April 20 at noon in a game played in Happy Valley.

All-Time Series vs. Purdue: The Nittany Lions and Boilermakers have met 68 times on the diamond in the all-time series, with Purdue holding a 41-27 advantage. Penn State has not fared well lately against PU, winning just two of the last 10 matchups. Purdue swept the Blue and White last season, winning three games by a combined five runs. Penn State’s most recent win came on April 1, 2012 in a lopsided 16-6 win in West Lafayette. In games played at Purdue the Lions are 12-22 in the all-time matchup.

Purdue at a Glance: The Boilermakers come into the weekend with a 5-19 record, losers of their last three games. However, Purdue has played one of the toughest non-conference schedules of all Big Ten teams, facing Tennessee, Rice, LSU and San Diego State. Like Penn State, the Boilers have played just one conference series thus far, going 1-2 at Illinois last weekend.

PU at the Dish: Through 24 games, Purdue has a team batting average of .225 on the season. The Boilermakers are led at the plate by Sean McHugh, who is hitting .309.
The freshman has recorded 30 hits in 97 at bats and leads the team in home runs 2ith three and slugging percentage at .464.

PU on the Mound: Purdue has struggled in the first half of the season on the mound, posting an ERA of 6.99. Gavin Downs has been the squads best pitcher, going 1-3 on the season with a team-best ERA of 3.89. The sophomore has totaled 37 innings pitched, allowing 16 earned runs off 40 hits to go along with 14 strikeouts.

Last Series vs. the Boilermakers: The Nittany Lions hosted the Boilers for a three-game series last season, with Purdue earning a hard fought sweep. The Boilermakers outscored Penn State 19-14 over the three days, winning game one 7-5, game two 5-4 in 10 innings and game three 7-5. Current senior Ryky Smith had a strong series against PU last season, going 4-for-8 at the plate and adding three runs and an RBI.

Last Time Out: The Nittany Lions put on one of their best performances in recent memory the last time they took the field, defeating Youngstown State 15-2. The Nittany Lions’ 15 runs were the most in nearly two seasons for the program, as the last time Penn State scored at least 15 runs was April 6, 2012 in a 15-5 win over Canisius. The 13-run win is the widest margin of victory since the Blue and White defeated Michigan State by 17 runs in a 22-5 blowout on May 1, 2010.

The Nittany Lions’ seven runs in the first frame were the most the team has scored in a single inning this season. Penn State had a season-high six players record multi-hit performances. On the mound, five pitchers combined to allow no earned runs and just five hits.

Cooper Closing in on Milestone: First year head coach Rob Cooper enters the weekend with 299 career wins at the NCAA Division I level, one shy of 300. The skipper accumulated 286 wins at Wright in nine seasons and has recorded 13 victories thus far this season as a Nittany Lion. Cooper has recorded winning seasons in seven of his nine years as a head coach.

The Steve Snyder Show: Senior outfielder Steve Snyder ranks in the top 10 in a number of individual categories in the Big Ten. The senior’s .398 batting average leads the conference, with Iowa’s Dan Potempa in second at .388. Snyder has recorded 37 hits, tied for third most in the Big Ten and is tied for sixth in walks with 17. The hits and free passes have led to an on-base percentage of .496, which also leads the Big Ten.

The senior is in the midst of another double-digit hitting streak as well, recording a base knock in 10 consecutive games. Earlier this season, Snyder matched his longest hitting streak of his career, stringing together hits in 11-straight games. The outfielder has had a hit in 21 of his last 22 games.

Walk This Way: Since Rob Cooper has taken over the Penn State baseball program the team’s plate discipline has greatly improved. The Nittany Lions have drawn 125 walks through 26 games which leads the Big Ten in the category. The next closest team is Iowa, who has reached via the free pass 113 times this season. Leading the way for Penn State is sophomore James Coates, who has reached base 21 times via the base on balls. The sophomore’s 21 walks place Coates tied for second in the Big Ten, just two behind Illinois’ Michael Hurwitz for the lead. Other Nittany Lions ranking in the top 10 in the category are Taylor Skerpon (T-6th, 17) and Steve Snyder (T-6th, 17).   

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Last Updated April 03, 2014