April 27, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Barrett Serrato connected for a fourth-inning grand slam and Joe Haase worked seven innings of one-run ball, leading No. 13 Purdue baseball to a 6-2 win against Michigan State in the opener of a series at Lambert Field that features the top two teams in the Big Ten standings.
The Boilermakers (33-6, 13-3 Big Ten) won for the 13th time in the last 14 games and improved to 8-0 on Fridays. Purdue has won all 11 games Haase (7-0) has started this year.
Serrato recorded his 100th career RBI when he went deep to right field with the bases loaded and Purdue trailing 1-0 in the fourth inning. It was the second grand slam of the year by a Boiler, but the first at Lambert Field since April 2010. Serrato hit his fourth home run of the season and sixth career, five of which have come in Big Ten play.
Eric Charles and Kevin Plawecki each recorded three hits for Purdue, both players driving in a run with a two-out single in the seventh inning. Charles scored twice to move within one run of tying the program's all-time record.
Haase allowed the leadoff man to reach safely via a single in each of the first four innings. But that runner came around to score only once. Beginning in the fourth inning, Haase retired 10 consecutive batters. With his seventh win of the season he matched Blake Mascarello for the Big Ten lead.
Mascarello pitched the final two innings Friday, working a 1-2-3 eighth inning to extend his streak of consecutive batters retired to 21 dating back to April 15. The streak was snapped when Torsten Boss bunted for a base hit to open the ninth. Michigan State would load the bases with no outs, but Mascarello induced a 6-4-3 ground ball double play to squash the Spartans' momentum. The game ended when the next batter popped out to Charles in short center field.
Charles made the highlight defensive play of the day, catching a foul pop up and crashing into the tarp along the fence down the right field line in the fifth inning. He held on to the ball despite tumbling over the tarp and landing between the tarp the fence.
Charles singled to ignite the fourth inning rally. Cameron Perkins was down in the count 0-2 when he was hit by a pitch. Kevin Plawecki followed with a single up the middle. Purdue had only one base runner against MSU starter Tony Bucciferro entering the inning.
Serrato was down in the count 1-2 when he connected for the fly ball to right field. The wind was uncharacteristically blowing from left to right on the day and it helped the ball carry out for a rare homer to right field at Lambert Field. Michigan State right fielder Jimmy Pickens did not pick the ball up when it left Serrato's bat, putting his hands up to indicate as much. Not only did the ball carry over his head but it also left the ballpark.
It was only the second home run of the season hit by Purdue at Lambert. However, the Boilers have now connected for six homers in their last five games. Serrato has driven in a run in six consecutive Big Ten games. It was his third career four-RBI effort.
Plawecki threw out Ryan Jones trying to steal to eliminate a leadoff hit in the first inning. Haase induced back-to-back grounders in the second after another inning-opening single, getting a 4-6-3 double play ball to end the frame. A strike out and a sac fly allowed the senior to minimize the damage done by MSU in the third after a single and double to begin the inning.
Haase gave up just one hit after the fourth inning. He did not issue a walk for the fourth time in 11 starts this year.
Purdue, meanwhile, successfully put the ball in play regularly against Bucciferro (3-3), who entered the day with a Big Ten-leading 60 strikeouts. The Boilermakers went down on strikes only twice, both punch outs coming in the sixth inning. Purdue has fanned out four times in its last three games.
Charles has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games as well as 30 straight Big Ten contests dating back to last season. He singled home Andrew Dixon with two outs in the seventh. After a hit-and-run single from Perkins, Plawecki delivered another two-out base hit into center field.
The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m.