April 1, 2013
PSU Boxscores: Game 1
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PARK RIDGE, Ill. -- Kyle Johnson led the way offensively in Purdue baseball's first ever road sweep at Penn State, hitting safely and driving in a run all three games of the weekend to earn Big Ten co-Player of the Week as well as Freshman of the Week honors for his consistency.
Johnson finished the series 6-for-11 with two doubles, four RBI, three walks and two runs scored. He reached base safely in nine of his 14 plates appearances for a .643 on-base percentage. He shared Player of the Week honors with Indiana's Sam Travis (6-for-14, 8 RBI in a sweep at Iowa) and became the third Boilermaker to win Big Ten Freshman of the Week this year, joining Josh Estill (Feb. 18) and Jordan Minch (March 18).
Johnson's breakout series was highlighted by Sunday's 3-for-3 showing, in which he reached safely in all four of his plate appearances and scored the go-ahead run in the eighth inning after singling to begin the frame. The San Diego native entered the weekend just 5-for-42 this season, but seemed prime to bust out of season-opening slump based on some recent tough luck at-bats. A .147 batting average on balls in play over the first month of the season suggested the same.
Johnson is the first freshman around the conference to win Big Ten Player or Pitcher of the Week this year. On four occasions last season, a freshman was named Big Ten Player/Pitcher and Freshman of the Week. Travis did it in back-to-back weeks (March 26 and April 3) early in the Big Ten season. Pitchers Sasha Kuebel (Iowa) and Brandon Magallones (Northwestern) accomplished the feat on the mound. Ohio State's Josh Dezse (April 18, 2011) is the only other field player to pull off the double honor since Freshman of the Week was added to the weekly awards program in 2011.
John Hunter (2003) was the last Purdue freshman to win Big Ten Player of the Week honors. Matt Bischoff was the Pitcher of the Week as a freshman in 2007.
Johnson had a pair of RBI hits while reaching base safely four times in the Boilers' series-opening win at Penn State. He delivered an RBI double in the game two win. The outfielder is 7-for-19 with a team-best 6 RBI in the first six Big Ten games of the season.
Purdue's freshman class led the way in the series sweep of Penn State. Also deserving of weekly honors were Minch, Jack Picchiotti and Mike Lutz. Minch worked eight innings of one-run ball in his first series-opening start of the season Friday, retiring 16 of 18 batters during one impressive stretch. Picchoitti had multiple hits in all three games of the series, finishing the weekend 6-for-13 while putting the ball in play in each of his 14 plate appearances. Lutz became the first Purdue pitcher since 2009 to appear in all three games of a weekend series, working 6 1/3 shutout innings of relief. He earned his first collegiate win with 4 1/3 scoreless frames in Sunday's victory.
Purdue won a program-record 11 weekly awards from the conference office last season. Seven different players were honored during the Big Ten championship season. Ohio State is the only other school to have multiple Freshman of the Week Award winners so far this year.
The Boilermakers have five home games scheduled this week, beginning Tuesday at 6 p.m. versus Butler. This weekend, Northwestern visits West Lafayette for the first time since 2010.