March 31, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Mike Lutz worked 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief to finish off the game and offensively Purdue baseball took advantage of a number of Penn State miscues on a rainy day at the ballpark, finishing off a three-game series sweep with a 7-5 victory Sunday afternoon.
The Boilermakers (10-14, 3-3 Big Ten) posted their first ever sweep in Happy Valley and have now won 17 of the last 22 meetings with PSU (5-18, 0-6 Big Ten) dating back to 2008. It was Purdue's first sweep on the road since taking all three games of a series at Northwestern the first weekend of April a year ago.
Freshmen led the way for the Boilers. Along with Lutz's impressive relief work, Kyle Johnson (3-for-3, RBI, walk) and Jack Picchiotti (2-for-3, 2 RBI) each had multiple hits in the middle of the lineup. Both players hit safely in all three games of the series while recording six hits apiece.
Johnson scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning when PSU starter Greg Welsh committed a throwing error on a bunt attempt by Jake Hansen with two outs in the inning. Cody Strong also scored on the play. Welsh threw over 140 pitches while striking out 11 over eight innings. Purdue managed to win for the second time this season while striking out a season-high 12 times.
Brad Schreiber struck out a career-high nine batters as the Boilers' starting pitcher, posting the team's highest strikeout total in over a year. The right-hander struck out seven of the 11 batters he faced from the second through the fifth innings, highlighted by a 1-2-3 third inning that featured three Ks.
Pitching for the third day in a row, Lutz entered the game after a throwing error by Hansen allowed the game-tying run to score with two outs in the fifth inning. Lutz retired the first man he faced to end the threat and keep the game tied. The following frame, PSU loaded the bases with one out thanks to three singles. But Lutz came back and retired the No. 3 and 4 hitters in the lineup to keep the game tied. His lone strikeout of the day was for the second out of the bottom of the sixth. The freshman went on to close the game out and earn his first collegiate win, recording 1-2-3 frames in the seventh and ninth.
Lutz became the first Purdue pitcher to take the mound in all three games of a series since Connor Sestak in May 2009 against Indiana. However, Sestak faced only five batters in that series as a situational lefty. Lutz finished the weekend having worked 6 1/3 innings of scoreless relief over his three appearances.
Purdue also squandered some scoring opportunities. The first five batters of the fourth inning reached base safely, consecutive RBI singles from Johnson and Picchiotti giving the Boilers their first lead at 3-2. With the bases loaded and still no outs, Welsh struck out the next three batters to limit the damage.
An inning later, the Nittany Lions intentionally walked Johnson to load the bases with one out. Purdue was able to score twice, but it took a botched sequence by PSU and a nifty slide from Kyle Wood on a first-and-third double steal to get the second run home.
Penn State tied the game with two outs in the fifth inning thanks to three unearned runs. After a triple and a walk put runners on the corners, Schreiber recorded the second out of the inning on a strikeout, his ninth and final K of the day. He got cleanup hitter J.J. White to hit a foul pop up in front of the PSU dugout, but Picchiotti had the ball pop out of his catcher's glove after looking up into the rain. It was the second dropped foul ball of the inning. Schreiber ended up walking White to load the bases and Luis Montesinos made the Boilers pay, delivering a two-run single to left field. Hansen's wide throw to first base on grounder to shortstop then allowed the tying run to score.
The Nittany Lions took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the second thanks to a pair of walks and a pair of singles. Schreiber recorded a big strikeout with the bases loaded for the second out of the inning. But Alex Farkes came through with a two-out, two-run single when a line drive popped out of Brandon's Krieg glove at second base and rolled into short right center.
Purdue has won seven of its last nine road games dating back to the opening weekend of the spring break trip.
The Boilermakers begin a five-game homestand Tuesday with a 6 p.m. midweek game against Butler.