WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue baseball was able to record multiple hits in an inning only twice on the day and the lackluster offensive production coupled with an early deficit cost the Boilermakers in a 7-4 loss to Illinois Saturday afternoon at Lambert Field.
Purdue (32-17, 11-9 Big Ten) lost a home for the first time since April 10, snapping a five-game winning streak at Lambert. The rubber game of the Big Ten Conference series is set for 3 p.m. Sunday and will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
The Fighting Illini (21-25, 11-9 Big Ten) won for the ninth time in their last 13 games and now have an opportunity to capture their fourth consecutive series.
Kevin Plawecki connected for his first home run of the season, and ninth career, on his way to collecting three RBIs. He went deep to left to open the bottom of the second. It marked the fourth straight home game that a Purdue player has connected for a home run.
Eric Charles and Cameron Perkins both tripled and scored, extending hitting streaks. Charles led off the fourth inning with a triple and scored on a sacrifice fly from Plawecki. He has now hit safely in 11 consecutive games.
Charles also reached on a bunt single in front of Perkins' triple into the left field corner in the sixth inning. Perkins has hit safely in 10 straight games and reached base safely in 55 consecutive contests dating back to last season.
Illinois retired 16 Boilers on fly ball outs. Starter John Anderson (6-6) finished one out shy of his fifth complete game of the season, working 8 2/3 innings of four-run ball. He struck out three and did not issue a walk. The senior worked 1-2-3 innings in the first, third and seventh. Wes Braun retired Stephen Talbott on a fly ball to center field with runners on first and second to close out the win and earn his sixth save of the season.
Purdue put the potential tying run on first base in the eighth inning and Talbott represented the same scenario when he came to the plate in the ninth. Anderson was able to strike out Plawecki to end the eighth.
The Fighting Illini strung together three straight two-out hits, including back-to-back doubles from Brandon Hohl and Casey McMurray, to take an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Illinois went on to score in four of the five innings that Purdue starter Calvin Gunter (5-2) was on the mound.
A two-out error by shortstop David Miller, his first miscue since April 10, helped the Illini score twice more in the fifth inning. Purdue trailed 6-2 but cut the deficit in half with two runs in the bottom of the sixth.
The relief work of Robert Ramer and Angelo Cianfrocco helped keep the Boilers in the game. They teamed up for four innings of one-run relief. Ramer retired eight of the 10 batters he faced, highlighted by back-to-back 1-2-3 innings after taking over on the mound to start the top of the sixth.
Pete Cappetta led off the ninth inning with a triple to right center. Cianfrocco entered the game moments later and retired all three batters he faced. But Adam Davis' fly ball to right field was deep enough to plate the insurance run.
Tyler Spillner singled and Perkins was hit by a pitch to bring Plawecki to the plate representing the potential go-ahead run in the eighth inning. The following frame, Barrett Serrato and Miller singled to force the Illini to finally go to the bullpen.
Purdue is 3-1 in rubber games this season and 2-1 in Big Ten action. Illinois has won a rubber game each of the last three weekends and is 4-2 in rubber games in Big Ten play.