BATON ROUGE, La. (Purdue Sports) – Behind another impressive outing from pitcher Gavin Downs, Purdue baseball held a 2-0 lead on No. 4 LSU entering the bottom of the seventh only to see the home team rally for four unanswered runs to take the game 4-2 Saturday evening.
The Tigers (13-2) did not score while Downs was on the mound. He left the game with runners on second and third and one out in the bottom of the seventh. Both runners ended up scoring and the go-ahead run also came around on the second of consecutive two-out RBI singles.
The Boilermakers (1-9) scored both of their runs with two outs thanks to RBI doubles from Cody Strong and Conner Hudnall in back-to-back innings early in the game. The two runs Purdue scored Saturday matched the total that LSU starter Kyle Bouman had allowed over 18 innings pitched in his first three starts of the season.
Downs struck out five and walked only one in his first start of the season, surrendering just five singles. The sophomore has now pitched 22 innings of five-run ball over four appearances this year. Downs struck out LSU leadoff man Kramer Robertson looking three times after he entered the night having fanned only once this season.
The Boilermakers turned a pair of inning-ending double plays and Sean McHugh threw out his eighth base stealer of the season. Center fielder Kyle Johnson threw out a LSU runner trying to tag up and move into third base on a fly ball with one out in the second inning. Strong turned a chopper over the mound into a 4-3 twin killing to end the bottom of the eighth.
Jack Amaro had two singles, scored a run and made a pair of nice catches in left field while making his second start of the season. Strong reached base safely for the 10th consecutive game to begin the season thanks to his RBI double to left center in the third inning. However, McHugh saw his six-game hitting streak come to an end after getting robbed of an extra-base hit on impressive diving catch by LSU center fielder Andrew Stevenson in the first inning.
Purdue did not draw a walk for the second night in a row, marking the first time that had happened in consecutive games since a May 2012 doubleheader at UCLA.
Downs pitched over leadoff singles in the second, third and fifth innings. But a base hit, hit by pitch and sacrifice bunt setup the LSU rally in the seventh. Tim McElroy was brought into the game to face the left-handed hitting Stevenson, who drove in the first run with a line drive sacrifice fly to left field. Pinch hitter Conner Hale delivered the game-tying single against Mike Lutz (0-1) and took second when Johnson’s throw went home. The extra base proved costly when Hale was able to score from second on Chris Sciabra’s base hit through the right side. All three RBI in LSU’s seventh-inning rally came from the bottom third of the lineup.
LSU reliever Nate Fury (1-0) earned the win after retiring the only man he faced, striking out Brandon Krieg to end the top of the seventh with Amaro and Steve Maniago aboard. Both Boilers had recorded two-out singles in the frame.
The series concludes Sunday at 2 p.m. ET.