May 9, 2014
MINNEAPOLIS -- Led by a pair of home runs, Purdue baseball opened up an early 4-0 lead, but the Boilermakers managed just two hits after the fourth inning in a 6-5 series-opening loss at Minnesota Friday evening.
The Boilermakers (12-33, 5-14 Big Ten) tied the game on a two-out double from Sean McHugh in the top of the seventh, scoring Brandon Krieg from first base thanks in part to a nifty slide at home plate. But a two-out single from the Gophers' nine-hole hitter Matt Fiedler in the bottom of the eighth plated the game-deciding run. Fiedler also drove in the go-ahead run with a two-out hit in the sixth inning.
Kyle Wood and Krieg both went deep for Purdue. Wood also flew out to the wall in left field in two other at-bats. It marked the first time since March 22 and only the second time this season that the Boilers have hit multiple home runs in a game.
Minnesota (24-20, 10-9 Big Ten) scored five unanswered runs in the middle innings, tying the game on a two-out, two-run double from Tony Skjefte in the bottom of the fifth. Skjefte finished the night 3-for-5. The Gophers had a leadoff double and an RBI single back-to-back in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Purdue had the bases loaded with one out in the top of the second but could not extend its lead. After hitting Jeff Evak with a pitch, Minnesota starter Alec Crawford came back to strike out Steve Maniago and Krieg to escape the jam and keep it a 1-0 game.
Maniago and Krieg got some revenge in Purdue's three-run fourth, coming through with a pair of run-scoring extra-base hits. Maniago plated Jack Picchiotti with a two-out double and scored on Krieg's second home run of the season moments later.
The Boilermakers had two on with no outs in the top of the eighth after walks to Kyle Johnson and pinch hitter Ted Snidanko to begin the inning. But Jack Amaro fouled out trying to bunt and Dalton Sawyer (3-3) got out of the jam by retiring Purdue's eight and nine hitters.
In his Big Ten-leading 28th appearance of the season, Mike Lutz (2-6) retired Minnesota's 2-3-4 hitters in order in the seventh inning. But a one-out walk in the eighth followed by an infield hit set the stage for Fiedler's go-ahead single through the left side.
Purdue starter Jordan Minch surrendered eight hits and a walk over the final three innings he worked. The lefty had retired eight of the first 11 batters he faced entering the fourth inning. Maniago turned a line drive to third base into an unassisted double play to end the bottom of the second after Minnesota had runners on the corners with one out.
Picchiotti reached base safely for the 15th consecutive game in which he started. Krieg has been on safely at least once in 14 straight games overall.
The Boilermakers fell to 5-10 in one-run games this year and 2-6 in Big Ten play. The Gophers can clinch a Big Ten Tournament berth with one more win this weekend. Purdue's Big Ten Tournament chances took a hit with the loss, but Illinois' win at Iowa kept the Boilers alive.
Game two of the series is set for 7 p.m. ET Saturday.