University Park, Pa. – The Nebraska baseball team (32-18-1, 14-7-1 Big Ten) fell to Penn State (18-35, 4-18 Big Ten) in the series opener, 8-7, at Medlar Field at Lubrano Park on Thursday night.
Junior right-hander Jake Hohensee made his 13th start of the season, and went 5.1 innings, giving up four runs, all of which were earned. Robbie Palkert threw 2.0 innings, giving up one run which was unearned. Chad Luensmann gave up three runs, all unearned, in 1.1 innings.
Leadoff hitter Jake Meyers homered in the first at-bat of the game to left field, marking the first time since DJ Belfonte against Texas A&M on May 1, 2010 that a Husker led the game off with a home run. Angelo Altavilla drew a walk, but a double-play lineout and strikeout ended the inning for the Big Red. Penn State took the lead after the first inning with three runs on three hits, highlighted by a home run from Willie Burger.
Luis Alvarado was walked in the top of the second, but the Huskers couldn’t get another baserunner. The Nittany Lions had one baserunner reach on a throwing error by the third baseman, but didn’t add to their lead in the bottom of the second.
Meyers walked after a flyout started the third for Nebraska. Meyers advanced to second on a passed ball, but was stranded after back-to-back outs. Hohensee retired all three Nittany Lions in the bottom of the third.
Luke Roskam walked in the fourth, but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice that put Alvarado at first base. The inning ended with a Jesse Wilkening groundout. The Nittany Lions went 1-2-3 in the bottom half of the fourth.
Mojo Hagge tripled in the top of the fifth and Meyers drove him in with a one-out single through the left side. Altavilla singled through the right side in the following at-bat, advancing Meyers to second. After a Scott Schreiber strikeout, Ben Miller hit an RBI single through the right side to tie the game at 3-3. Roskam struck out to end the inning. Hohensee retired all three Nittany Lion batters.
Jake Schleppenbach reached on a hit-by-pitch in the sixth and advanced to second on a passed ball, but was left on-base.
Hohensee had retired 10 consecutive batters before a leadoff double for the Nittany Lions in the bottom of the sixth. The runner scored with another double, giving Penn State a 4-3 lead. The next three batters were retired.
In the top of the seventh, Meyers was walked and advanced to third on an Altavilla single to right field. Schreiber grounded out, but brought in Meyers. Roskam was walked, but both baserunners were left stranded. Palkert struck out two, and also forced a flyout in the seventh.
Wilkening doubled in the leadoff spot in the top of the eighth. Schleppenbach grounded out in the subsequent at-bat, advancing Wilkening to third. Meyers was walked for the third time of the night after back-to-back outs. Altavilla ripped a double down the right field line, which scored both Wilkening and Meyers and gave NU a 6-4 lead. Schreiber drove in Altavilla, but was thrown out at second base.
PSU had a leadoff single in the eighth, and also drew a walk. Luensmann came in and forced two groundouts, but Penn State scored on an error by Miller.
In the top of the ninth, all three Husker batters were retired. Penn State scored three runs off two hits to complete the comeback, as two Huskers committed errors.
Game 2 of the three-game set between the Huskers and Nittany Lions is set for Friday at 5:30 p.m. (CT).