May 25, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Matt Morgan worked eight innings of two-run ball and Stephen Talbott drove in three runs thanks to a pair of doubles, helping Purdue baseball tie the program's single-season wins record with its 37th of the year, a 7-2 victory against Penn State on the opening day of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Boilermakers (37-18) will take on second-seeded Michigan State Thursday at 3:30 p.m.
Purdue scored seven unanswered runs after the Nittany Lions (32-21) took an early lead on a two-out, two-run single in the first inning. Morgan responded by retiring 20 of the next 23 batters, working 1-2-3 innings in the second, third, fifth and seventh. The Boilermakers also turned inning-ending double plays in the fourth and eighth.
Talbott delivered the big hit in Purdue's three-run fifth inning. With runners on the corners and one out, he doubled into right center to give the Boilers the lead. Tyler Spillner and Payton Bieker were on base after both Fort Wayne natives had been hit by a pitch. Bieker scored from first base even though the double did not make it to the warning track. Talbott scored moments later on a wild pitch.
Spillner connected for a two-run homer in the eighth inning, his fourth of the season but first since the spring break trip in March. Talbott also doubled home a run in the eighth, a frame in which the Boilers tacked on three insurance runs.
Morgan (6-2) struck out eight, fanning at least one batter in each of his first five innings. He struck out a pair in the first and fifth innings. The senior did not issue a walk after the first inning, a frame in which he walked a pair.
Penn State starting pitcher John Walter (6-4) did not give up a hit his first time through the Purdue lineup, retiring the first eight batters of the game in order. But a one-out double from Cameron Perkins followed by a base hit up the middle from Kevin Plawecki got the Boilers on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth.
Four Purdue batters were hit by a pitch in the win. Three of those base runners ended up scoring. Spillner was plunked to leadoff the fifth inning and Plawecki was hit in the back to open the eighth. Both runners ended up scoring on an extra-base hit.
Spillner scored the game-tying run on Talbott's double in the fifth inning after taking second on a failed pickoff attempt and third on a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Dixon. Walter was ahead in the count 1-and-2 on Talbott but made a mistake with a pitch over the middle of the plate and the Purdue left fielder went opposite field with a line drive into right center. Talbott tagged up and moved into third when David Miller flew out to right field for the second out of the inning. The smart base running proved important when Talbott was able to score on a wild pitch with Eric Charles at the plate.
Dixon scored the game's final run in the bottom of the eighth, drawing a walk following Spillner's homer to right and coming around on Talbott's double off the top of the wall in left field.
Bobby Jacobs delivered the two-out two-run single with the bases loaded for Penn State in the top of the first. Morgan had given up a game-opening single on the first pitch and walked left-handed power hitters Jordan Steranka and Maria Eramo to load the bases.
Morgan bounced back from his tough first inning by facing the minimum until Joey DeBernardis doubled with two outs in the sixth. Morgan fell behind in the count to Eramo but battled back and got the outfielder to hit a hard ground ball to Perkins at first, where he made a backhanded stop and beat Eramo for the bag for the final out of the frame.
The Boilermakers turned a 6-4-3 double play to end the fourth inning. In the eighth, Morgan erased a leadoff single by the No. 9 hitter thanks to a 4-3 ground ball double play off the bat of Luis Montesinos. Charles turned it himself at second base, leaving Steranka in the on-deck circle when it was still a two-run game.
Perkins reached base safely for a 61st consecutive game thanks to his opposite field double in the fourth inning, Purdue's first hit of the game.
Penn State takes on Minnesota Thursday at noon in the first elimination game of the six-team tournament. After Purdue and Michigan State square off, top-seeded Illinois plays Ohio State at 7 p.m. The Buckeyes scored five runs in the eighth inning Wednesday to defeat Minnesota, 5-3.