MUNCIE, Ind. - Trailing by a run with Purdue baseball down to its final out in the ninth inning, Barrett Serrato and Payton Bieker delivered consecutive two-run singles to lift the Boilermakers to an 8-5 victory at Ball State Tuesday afternoon in the opener of a 10-game road stretch.
Purdue (21-11) scored four times with two outs in the second and ninth innings. The Cardinals (7-23) tied the game with a four-run third inning and took the lead into the ninth thanks to a two-out run on an infield single in the bottom of the eighth.
Serrato delivered the big hit of the game, connecting for an opposite field single into left center on the first pitch he saw from new reliever Scott Brothers, Jr. with the bases loaded in the ninth. Bieker also singled into left center moments later, plating two more and giving Purdue room for error in the bottom the frame.
Closer Nick Wittgren didn't need the additional insurance runs. After hitting the first batter of the inning, Wittgren induced a 4-6-3 double play ball and another weak grounder to second base to close out the win. It was his fourth save in the last seven days and seventh of the season.
Purdue starter Robert Ramer put together a quality start, giving up three earned runs over a career-high six innings. He struck out four and did not issue a walk. The Boilermakers drew six walks at the plate and did not issue a base on balls on the mound.
Cameron Perkins went 2-for-5 and scored the go-ahead run in the ninth, extending his hitting streak to 14 consecutive games to match the longest streak of his collegiate career.
David Miller was hit by a pitch to lead off the ninth inning. His pinch runner, Andrew Dixon, scored the tying run on Serrato's clutch single. Miller also came through with a two-run single in Purdue's four-run second inning.
David Blount opened the scoring for the Boilers with the first of three straight run-scoring hits in the second. Eric Charles later plated Miller with an RBI triple into right center. Each of Purdue's five hits in the inning were of the opposite-field variety.
The Boilermakers had not scored since the second inning, stranding seven runners on base, as they entered the ninth down a run. With Dixon on at first base, Perkins kept the inning alive with an infield single to third base, beating out a high chopper. Kevin Plawecki was hit by the first pitch of his at-bat to load the bases.
Brothers took over on the mound for Cody Elliott (0-3), who had played the first eight innings of the game in center field before moving to the mound in the ninth. After throwing just three pitches, Brothers had given up a pair of two-run singles.
A leadoff single and stolen base by T.J. Baumet helped Ball State take the lead in the eighth inning. A sacrifice bunt moved the Cardinals' shortstop into third base. Calvin Gunter (3-0) got the call from the Purdue bullpen to face left-handed hitting Kenny Mahala, who was 3-for-3 with a three-run double entering his final at-bat. Ball State tried to execute a suicide squeeze bunt on the second pitch of Mahala's at-bat, but the cleanup hitter bunted foul. Gunter struck him out swinging on the next pitch.
Blake Beemer's swinging bunt single down the first base line allowed Baumet to score the tying run. Blount fielded the ball but the first base umpire ruled he was unable to apply the tag as Beemer dove for the bag in foul territory.
Tyler Spillner and Miller each made an impressive diving catch in center field. Miller made an over the shoulder catch on a pop up in short center and was able to double off Mahala at second base to end Ball State's four-run third inning. Spillner laid out and made a highlight-reel caliber catch on a line drive hit by Sean Godfrey to end the sixth inning.
Purdue returns to action Wednesday when it takes on IPFW at 7:30 p.m. at Parkview Field. The Minor League stadium is home to the Fort Wayne TinCaps, the San Diego Padres' affiliate in the Midwest League.