May 18, 2013
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.
-- Limited to one hit through eight innings, Purdue baseball scored four times and had the tying run on base in the ninth before the rally came up short as Iowa completed a series sweep, 5-4, in the season finale for both teams Saturday afternoon at Alexander Field.
Three of the last four Purdue-Iowa series to close the regular season the past four years have resulted in a sweep. The Boilermakers (17-34, 6-18 Big Ten) were swept in three of their four home Big Ten series, four times in Big Ten play this year and on five occasions total during a frustrating 2013 campaign.
Meanwhile, Iowa (22-27, 10-14 Big Ten) finished the year strong, winning five of its last six games. The Hawkeyes won the first two games of the series with Purdue in extra innings and then held on for the one-run win Saturday. Iowa swept the series in West Lafayette despite recording just two extra-base hits in the series.
In only his second start of the season, the Hawkeyes' Taylor Kaufman (3-3) worked seven consecutive hitless innings after giving up a single to Sean McHugh in the bottom of the first. But a leadoff double from Stephen Talbott in his final collegiate at-bat ignited the Boilers' four-run rally in the ninth.
Kyle Johnson connected for a two-run double to left center to finally get the Boilermakers on the board. After a hit batter, another pitching change and a fly ball to center field for the second out, Brandon Krieg and Steve Maniago came through with consecutive two-out RBI singles to make it a 5-4 game. But Josh Martsching got Conner Hudnall to foul out to the catcher to end the game and the season for both teams.
Iowa also had a four-run inning Saturday, taking advantage of two errors, three walks and a dropped third strike in the top of the fourth to pull ahead 5-0. A leadoff double also ignited that rally. But the key play of the frame was Nick Roscetti reaching base safely after striking out. Purdue catcher Josh Estill blocked the wild pitch up the first base line but then threw the ball over Angelo Cianfrocco's head at first base. The runner on second base scored on the play and Roscetti went all the way to third. He scored moments later on Iowa's second sacrifice fly of the inning.
Led by Mike Lutz, the Boilermakers' bullpen worked 5 1/3 innings of one-hit relief Saturday. Lutz got the final out of the fourth inning with the bases loaded. It was the first of nine consecutive batters retired for the freshman. Seniors Pat Gannon and Brett Andrzejewski each worked a scoreless inning of relief in their final college games.
Kaufman retired 12 consecutive batters from the first through fifth innings. He had also set down nine consecutive hitters going into the ninth inning. In each of the three games this weekend, Iowa's starting pitcher was still on the mound in the ninth inning. The Boilermakers scored only 10 runs in the series, six coming in the ninth inning.
McHugh's single in the first inning gave him five consecutive hits going back to Saturday's impressive four-hit, 12-total base effort. In his next two at-bats, the junior hit line drives back to the mound. Kaufman snared the liner to begin the fourth inning and got a glove on another well-hit ball in the sixth, recovering in time to throw out McHugh at first base.
Hudnall drew a leadoff walk in the sixth inning to finish the season riding a streak in which he reached base safely in the last 27 consecutive games that he started.
Purdue was a lackluster 5-14 in home games this year during the team's inaugural season at Alexander Field. Eleven of those 14 losses came in Big Ten play after the Boilers only managed to win one home conference game. Purdue was under .500 at home for the first time since going 8-10 in 2007, the last year that the Boilers did not qualify for the Big Ten Tournament. The five home wins were the fewest since going 2-12 at Lambert Field in 1975. The 34 overall losses matched the second most in program history.
Purdue will have to bid adieu to seven seniors who were all part of the 2012 Big Ten championship team, but is scheduled to return a number of now experienced players for the 2014 season. Thirteen freshman and 17 new players saw action for the Boilers this year.