March 25, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio - In a game in which six of the nine runs scored crossed home plate in the final inning and a half, Ohio State's three-run eighth-inning rally proved to be the difference, denying Purdue baseball a series sweep Sunday, 5-4, in the finale of the three-game weekend set.
The Boilermakers (16-4, 2-1 Big Ten) trailed 2-1 entering the top of the eighth but scored twice to take the lead. The Buckeyes (12-10, 1-2) regained the lead before an out was recorded in the bottom half of the frame and hung on after Purdue advanced the potential tying run into scoring position in the ninth.
The Boilermakers were gunning for their first-ever series sweep in Columbus after winning both ends of Saturday's doubleheader. Purdue did successfully win a conference-opening series on the road for the first time since 1995.
Cameron Perkins scored a run in each of the final two innings of the game, leading off the eighth with a single into center field. As of one six Boilers to hit safely in all three games of the series, he has now reached base safely in 45 consecutive Big Ten games dating back to 2010.
With Purdue trailing 5-3 with Perkins aboard and two outs in the ninth, Plawecki and Barrett Serrato registered back-to-back singles to make it a one-run game and advance the potential tying run into scoring position at second base. But OSU reliever John Kuchno (4-1) struck out Ryan Bridges on an 0-2 curveball to close out the back-and-forth affair.
After the Boilers had gone ahead in the top of the eighth, the first five OSU batters to come to the plate in the bottom of the frame reached base safely. An infield single and a fielding error by Eric Charles at second base setup a first and second situation as Purdue brought in closer Nick Wittgren.
David Corna successfully executed a sacrifice bunt and the Boilers failed to record an out on the play when Wittgren's throw to third base was late. Greg Solomon and Kirby Pellant followed with back-to-back bloop singles into right field. What proved to be the game-deciding run scored when Mike Carroll beat the throw at first base to stay out of an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play.
Ohio State starter Brett McKinney limited Purdue to one run on five hits through six innings. Serrato took him deep for a solo home run to lead off the second inning, the only long ball of the series. McKinney successfully pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the fifth inning by retiring Perkins and Plawecki. David Miller was stranded at third base after the shortstop reached third with only one out in the inning. The Boilermakers left 11 runners on base in the loss.
Purdue starter Calvin Gunter struck out a season-high five over five innings of two-run ball. He gave way to Jack DeAno out of the bullpen after issuing a leadoff walk in the bottom of the sixth. Gunter left a runner on third base in the first and fourth innings, tallying a pair of strikeouts after the runner reached third with one out in the fourth.
DeAno (2-1) retired the first six batters he faced until a leadoff infield single from Brad Hallberg in the bottom of the eighth.
Sunday's series finale marked the end of a 20-game stretch on the road to open the season for Purdue. The Boilermakers have five home games next week beginning with a 4 p.m. home opener Tuesday against nationally-ranked Louisville. It will be the final home opener at Lambert Field, Purdue's home field since 1965.