Feb. 22, 2014
HOUSTON -- A big inning for the opposition early in the ballgame cost Purdue baseball on another quiet day offensively, as No. 11 Rice clinched a series win against the Boilermakers with a 9-1 final in the middle game of the weekend set Saturday afternoon.
The Owls (5-2) scored five times on six hits in the second inning, but one of the key plays of the frame proved to be on the weakest hit ball of the frame.
Purdue (0-5) managed only one run on seven hits for the second day in a row. The Boilermakers have scored just six runs over their first five games, the team's fewest runs over any five-game stretch since also scoring six April 25 through May 1 of 2004. Purdue left nine men on base Saturday, hitting into inning-ending double plays in the fifth and sixth.
In the bottom of the second with a runner on second base, one out and a run already in, John Williamson hit a slow chopper up the first base line that Kyle Wood fielded halfway up the line. Williamson stopped running to first base and then appeared to back track toward home plate as Wood pursued him with the ball. Wood never applied the tag, thinking the home plate umpire called the batter out after not trying to run to first base. Instead, Williamson took off again and was ruled safe. Purdue head coach Doug Schreiber argued that a batter-runner is supposed to be called out if he retreats backwards to home plate.
Rice took advantage of the additional out. With two outs, two men on and the Owls' up 2-1, Shane Hoelscher delivered a two-run double to left field. Rice tacked on one more run in the frame and would add an insurance tally in the third, fourth and seventh innings.
Neither starting pitcher recorded a strikeout Saturday. The Owls' Evan Rutter impressed with 2 2/3 innings of hitless relief before he had to leave the game due to injury in the top of the ninth. He induced a 5-4-3 double play from the first batter he faced and struck out the side in the seventh.
Purdue managed to record more hits (three) and runs (one) against Rice starter Blake Fox (2-0) than the lefty had allowed over six innings in his season-opening start at Stanford last weekend. But after three straight two-out hits from Sean McHugh, Kyle Wood and Kyle Upp gave Purdue its 1-0 lead, Fox retired 10 of the next 11 hitters.
Trailing 7-1 in the top of the fifth, the Boilers loaded the bases with one out and had McHugh at the plate. But the senior hit a line drive back to the pitcher that led to an inning-ending twin killing.
Steve Maniago had two hits for the second day in a row. Wood doubled off the wall in right field in his first at-bat and reached base safely three times. Upp recorded and RBI single and drew a walk in his first start since March 2012.
Jordan Minch worked 5 2/3 innings, the longest outing of the young season by a Purdue pitcher, despite giving up seven runs on 10 hits. Joe Eichmann retired the only batter he faced to strand an inherited runner at second base in the bottom of the sixth. Adam Dressler worked a scoreless eighth inning against the top of the Rice lineup in his collegiate debut, registering the Boilers' only strikeout of the day.
The series finale is set for Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.