IU Pounds Penn State in Big Ten Opener, 14-2
March 23, 2012
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Indiana Baseball opened the Big Ten season with an emphatic bang, blasting Penn State, 14-2, in the conference opener. The Hoosiers (9-13) have now won five of their last seven games, all but one of which have been on the road.
Indiana's 15-hit total is the most in over a year, posting 16 hits against Michigan State on March 16, 2011. It was a base-knock party as seven different Hoosiers recorded at least one hit; and seven stroked multiple hits. Sam Travis paced the Cream and Crimson with his 4-for-5 day at the dish. The offensive wealth was spread throughout with eight players scoring a run and six different Hoosiers recording RBI.
Not to be overshadowed by the offensive explosion is the performance of IU's starting pitcher Joey DeNato. The San Diego, Calif., native fanned 10 Nittany Lions and allowed a lone run in six innings of work. DeNato was less than 100 pitches into his outing, but with the score out of hand he was pulled out of the game early. He needed just one more K to tie the all-time school record for most strikeouts in a Big Ten game, a record that he set last year at Iowa (Apr. 17, 2011); matching Eric Arnett and Brad Edwards whom accomplished the feat in 2009 and 1999, respectively.
The hit parade was early and often as IU rattled off seven hits and scored seven runs in the second inning. The Hoosiers strung together six consecutive hits to score all seven runs with two outs on the scoreboard.
Despite a seven-run cushion, DeNato did not take it easy on the Nittany Lions (4-15). The southpaw struck out four of the first five batters he faced. And when PSU was able to get a runner aboard in the third, DeNato quickly disposed of him with his lighting-quick pick-off move. It was the third runner DeNato's pegged at first already this season. In 2011, DeNato racked up a Big Ten-best 12 pick-offs, more than eight of the other nine teams in the conference and just one less than Michigan's team total of 13.
Justin Cureton and Kyle Schwarber paired up to notch run number eight. After drawing a walk in the fourth inning, Cureton swiped his 10th bag of the year. His stolen base flustered the PSU pitcher who subsequently pushed Cureton over to third base when he short-armed his pick-off attempt and the ball made it's way into center field. Schwarber took care of the rest, clubbing a sacrifice fly into left field for one of his team-leading three RBI on the day.
Penn State would respond in the home half of the fourth, posting back-to-back hits to open the frame and score it's first run. DeNato was not amused, quickly striking out the next two batters followed by a groundball to end the inning.
Following another huge IU inning, a five-sport in the top of the seventh, Head Coach Tracy Smith made the executive decision to end DeNato's day and hand it over to the bullpen. Jonny Hoffman came on for the seventh before Walker Stadler wrapped it up for the final two innings.
DeNato improves to 4-1 through six starts of his sophomore campaign. He also owns a 1.62 ERA with 31 punch-outs.
Game two of the weekend series is slated for a 2:05 pm first pitch on Saturday. Come right back here to IUHoosiers.com for live stats and an audio broadcast of the ball game. In addition, BTN.com is providing a live stream of the contest.
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