ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - Purdue baseball had its leadoff man reach base safely in all eight innings it batted and Blake Mascarello worked four innings of scoreless relief, leading the way in a 9-4 comeback win against Connecticut Saturday morning at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge.
The Boilermakers (1-0) defeated 2011 Big East champion UConn (1-1) in their season opener for the second year in a row. But after never trailing in last season's game, Purdue used back-to-back three-run rallies late in the contest to emerge victorious on this day.
The Boilermakers played an error-free game and did not issue a walk. The Huskies, meanwhile, committed five errors and did not record an out on any of the five bunts Purdue executed. Three double plays helped keep UConn in the game, erasing leadoff base runners in the second and fourth innings and minimizing the damage in a bases-loaded jam in the third.
The Boilermakers scored went ahead with three runs in the seventh and padded the lead with another three-spot in the eighth. Connecticut led 4-3 entering the bottom of the seventh.
Mascarello (1-0) retired 12 of the 14 batters he faced, giving up only two singles to No. 9 hitter Eric Yavarone. He put together back-to-back 1-2-3 innings in the seventh and eighth.
Purdue leadoff man Tyler Spillner opened the new season with an opposite-field single and was not retired on the day, scoring three times to go along with two singles and two walks. But all but one batter in the lineup had at least one hit. Cameron Perkins may have been held hitless, but he still managed to reach base safely in a 64th consecutive game dating back to 2010. And he knocked in the game-tying run with an RBI fielder's choice in the seventh inning.
Stephen Talbott ignited the seventh-inning rally with a leadoff single. He was the first Boiler to put the ball in play against UConn reliever David Fischer (0-1), who struck out the side in the sixth inning. Talbott and Spillner both scored in each of the three-run frames.
Barrett Serrato delivered the big hit early in the game, a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the first inning. That allowed the Boilers to quickly tie the game after UConn scored twice thanks to five consecutive two-out hits in the top of the frame.
Purdue starting pitcher Joe Haase surrendered four runs over five innings, all four runs scoring with two outs. He bounced back from a two-run first inning by retiring 10 of the next 11 batter he faced, highlighted by 1-2-3 frames in the second and fourth. A leadoff single by Billy Ferriter in the fifth inning, the only non-two out hit Haase surrendered, led to the game-tying run. Ryan Fuller scored the go-ahead tally after driving in Ferriter with a two-out base hit into right center.
For Purdue, Spillner scored the go-ahead run in the seventh inning on the second of two balks called on Fischer. Kevin Plawecki singled home Perkins moments later.
David Miller and Talbott were aboard in the eighth when Spillner executed a sacrifice bunt, which was thrown away down the left field line by reliever Ted Hurvul. Miller scored and Talbott trotted home not long after on a bloop single into left center over the top of a drawn in infield.
Mascarello's strikeouts against Preseason All-American LJ Mazzilli, who homered in the first inning, and Fuller to finish off his 1-2-3 seventh highlighted the left-hander relief outing.
Purdue plays Cincinnati tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Al Lang Stadium in downtown St. Petersburg in the nightcap of its day-night doubleheader. The game was rescheduled after it was rained out Friday.