April 13, 1997

Boilers Squeak Past Spartans

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Despite cold temperatures and overcast skies all weekend, the Purdue baseball team managed score 31 runs and pound out 42 hits in the four-game series with Michigan State. The Boilermakers (14-19 overall, 8-8 Big Ten) won three of four in the series, topping it off with a 5-4 victory over the Spartans on Sunday at Lambert Field.

"We've had excellent leadership lately," said Purdue head coach Steve Green. "Our senior pitchers are getting the job done on the mound, and Grieco and Bennett have really become a strong presence in the middle of our lineup. The younger guys are following the example set by the upperclassmen, which makes up a better team.

"This was a big weekend for us. Now we're back to .500 in the conference, and the three victories this weekend have given us a lot of momentum."

The Spartans got on top early with one run in the first inning and two more in the second.

Purdue stormed back with three runs in the second. Senior Anthony Grieco reached on an error to start the inning and junior Mike Rothstein followed with a single.

They each advanced a base on a sacrifice fly by junior Robb Ramacher. After sophomore Todd Ellinger walked to load the bases, sophomore Ryan Cole hit a ground ball into left field, allowing Grieco and Rothstein to score. Senior Rod Metzler then hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Ellinger and tie the score at 3-3.

The Boilermakers added another run in the third on junior Bill Bennett's fourth home run of the season, a 432-foot solo shot to left. Michigan State then tied the game with a run in the fifth as center fielder Zack Casey scored on a two-out double by right fielder Tom Hartley.

Purdue took the lead for good in the bottom half of the inning. Junior Mark Tomsyck led off with a single, moved into scoring position with his 22nd stolen base of the year and reached third on a single by freshman Daryl Hallada. Two batters later, Grieco, who's hitting .473 in conference play, singled home Tomsyck, putting the Boilers ahead 5-4.

Hallada and Rothstein each had two hits in the game for Purdue. Spartan pitcher Tom Olejnik went the distance, allowing seven hits and only two earned runs.

Senior left-hander Jeff Reder picked up his second victory of the season for the Boilers with seven superb innings of relief, allowing only one run while striking out three.

"I felt confident on the mound today," said Reder. "I knew I had to keep the ball down with the wind blowing out to left. We had some errors early, but the defense stepped up in the late innings and was spectacular."

The Boilermakers have won six of their last eight conference games and are currently tied for fourth inthe conference with Illinois. Purdue will next host Notre Dame on April 15 at 4 p.m.

Purdue 5, Michigan State 4
Michigan State  120 010 000 - 4  8  4
Purdue          031 010 00x - 5  7  2
Olejnik and Patterson. Howard, Reder (3) and Grieco.
WP: Reder (2-2). LP: Olejnik (1-5).
HR: Bennett (4).