March 12, 2011
MARTIN, Tenn. - Purdue baseball recorded 14 of its 16 hits over the final five innings, scoring in each of the final five frames to rally for its eighth straight win, 8-7, at Tennessee-Martin Saturday afternoon.
The Boilermakers (11-2) failed to score first for the first time this season after giving up a first-inning run for the first time in 2011, and in the process trailed for the first time during the current win streak. But Purdue scored game-tying runs in the sixth, eighth and ninth innings, going ahead with a two-run ninth.
Tyler Spillner led the way with a career-high four hits. He doubled twice, knocked in a pair and scored twice. With the Boilers trailing by a run entering the ninth inning, he opened the frame with an opposite-field double down the left field line and scored the game-tying run on a one-out single by Barrett Serrato.
Ryan Bridges scored the game-tying run in the eighth inning after doubling off the wall in right center. The following frame, he knocked in the game-winning run with a sacrifice fly to deep left center that plated Eric Charles.
Andrew Dixon also came through with a pair of clutch two-out hits, driving in the game-tying run in the sixth and a go-ahead tally two innings later.
The work of the Purdue bullpen once again highlighted the day for the pitching staff. Blake Mascarello and Nick Wittgren (1-1) teamed up for five innings of relief, allowing only one earned run while not issuing a walk. Wittgren pitched a 1-2-3 ninth inning, striking out the final two batters of the game, after the Boilers went ahead in the top of the frame.
Stephen Talbott went 3-for-4 with a double, triple and three runs scored. He helped ignite the Purdue offense and scored the team's first two runs of the day.
On the mound, meanwhile, Mascarello also helped swing the momentum into Purdue's favor. The left-hander entered the game in the bottom of the fifth after Purdue had reduced its deficit to a run. Mascarello retired the first six batters he faced while putting together a pair of 1-2-3 innings.
After Spillner's leadoff double in the ninth, Charles drew a walk and Cameron Perkins beat out a bunt to load the bases. Tennessee-Martin (3-10) was able to retire Kevin Plawecki on a pop out but Serrato came through with a game-tying base hit through the right side. Bridges' fly ball was hit deep to left, allowing Charles to easily score the go-ahead run. Serrato and Bridges both attacked the first pitch of their at-bats against UTM reliever Willie Fredrick (1-1).
Serrato was involved in another key play in the game when he was caught in a rundown between third base and home plate with one out in the sixth inning. Hung up on a ground ball to second base off the bat of David Miller with the infield drawn in, Serrato kept the rundown alive long enough to allow Miller to reach third base. That allowed Miller to score the game-tying run on Dixon's subsequent infield single near the second base bag.
Tennessee-Martin took a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fourth thanks to a bases-clearing, three-run double. The Boilermakers began their comeback in the following frame, stringing together four two-out hits. Talbott doubled to left and Spillner followed with an opposite field run-scoring single. After another base hit by Eric Charles, Cameron Perkins made it a one-run game with an RBI single.
Purdue saw its leadoff man reach base safely in seven of the nine innings. That runner came around to score three times.
The Boilermakers kept pace with the 1993 team for the best start in recent program history. The eight-game win streak has matched Purdue's longest of 2010. A win Sunday would give the Boilers' their longest streak since winning 13 in a row in 2001.
Saturday's victory assured Purdue of have a winning record in each of its first four weekends this season. The series finale is slated for Sunday at 2 p.m. (EDT).