March 27, 2012
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Stephen Talbott's walk-off single in the 10th inning punctuated No. 19 Purdue baseball's home opener with an exclamation point Tuesday, lifting the Boilers to a 2-1 win against No. 15 Louisville in a game that featured two of the nation's top offenses but turned into a pitcher's duel.
Purdue (17-4) and Louisville (18-7) entered the week both ranked among the top five in the country in team batting average. But it was freshmen starting pitchers Connor Podkul and Jared Ruxer, both Indiana natives, who dominated for much of the game. Podkul did not give up a hit over six innings of one-run ball. Ruxer surrendered only three hits and did not issue a walk over seven innings to match Podkul.
Angelo Cianfrocco led off the bottom of the 10th inning with an opposite-field double down the left field line. He took third on a sacrifice bunt by Andrew Dixon, bringing up David Miller as the Cardinals brought the infield in. After a lengthy at-bat during which he fouled off seven pitches, Miller was hit by a pitch to bring up Talbott. Louisville kept the infield drawn in but it turned out to not be a factor, as Talbott lined a pitch into right center field for a clean single. He was mobbed by his teammates at first base moments later.
The Boilermakers turned inning-ending double plays in the seventh and eighth innings and received two more nice defensive plays from the left side of the infield - Cameron Perkins at third base and Miller at shortstop - in the 10th to keep the game tied.
Purdue emerged victorious in thrilling fashion in the final home opener at Lambert Field, the program's home since 1965. A large and energetic crowd welcomed the Boilers home after they won 16 of their first 20 games while spending their first six weekends of the season on the road. Purdue defeated Louisville for the second year in row.
Talbott joined Sean McHugh and Perkins as active Boilers with a walk-off hit on their collegiate résumés. McHugh played the hero in Purdue's last extra-inning game, a 12-inning victory against Indiana at Lambert Field on April 29, 2011.
Blake Mascarello (5-1) earned the win with four innings of scoreless relief. He did not issue a walk. The defense backed him up by turning a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play with runners on the corners in the seventh. A line drive to Miller at shortstop led to an unassisted double play an inning later, as the pinch runner at second base was doubled off.
Catcher Kevin Plawecki, Perkins and Miller each made a nice defensive play in the top of the 10th. Plawecki pounced on a swinging bunt and threw out Ty Young to prevent a leadoff single. He later blocked a potential wild pitch with runners on the corners and two outs.
Perkins made a diving stop on a ground ball off the bat of Kyle Gibson with two outs in the 10th and a runner on second base. If Perkins had not gloved it and kept the ball in the infield, it could have found its way into left field for an RBI single. Moments later, Miller snared a chopper behind the second base bag and flipped the ball to Eric Charles at second base for an inning-ending force out.
Purdue took an early lead on back-to-back hits from Plawecki and Barrett Serrato in the second inning. Plawecki led off with a double into the left field corner and Serrato followed with an RBI single to right. However, Purdue had only one more hit, a two-out double from Talbott in the fifth, until the 10th inning.
Louisville tied the game in the fourth inning without the luxury of a hit. Nick Ratajaczak was hit by a pitch to open the inning and took second on a wild pitch. He tagged up and moved into third on a fly ball to center field, scoring moments later on a sac fly to center off the bat of cleanup hitter Stewart Ijames. Purdue center fielder Tyler Spillner accounted for all three putouts in the inning.
The Cardinals collected their first hit on a one-out single by Young in the seventh. Despite a low pitch count of 59 for Podkul, Mascarello took over on the mound to begin the seventh. The Cardinals had three left-handed hitters due up. Schreiber said Podkul is also continuing to build up his pitch count after a heavy work load in the spring and summer of 2011.
Podkul has surrendered only three hits over 12 1/3 innings in his first four appearances for the Boilers.
The run total was a season-low for U of L and Purdue's lowest total in a win this year. Louisville defeated Ohio State 20-0 a week ago in Kentucky. The Boilermakers had not won a 2-1 game since April 2010 in the opener of a Big Ten series with Northwestern at Lambert Field.
Purdue continue its five-game weeklong homestand Wednesday with a 4 p.m. midweek game against IPFW.