EAST LANSING, Mich. (Purdue Sports) – For the second Saturday in a row, Purdue baseball came up on the short end of a pair of one-run games in doubleheader action and dropped a Big Ten weekend series in the process, falling to Michigan State, 7-6 and 2-1.
The Boilermakers (7-24, 3-6 Big Ten) fell to 1-7 in doubleheader action this season, losing both ends of each of their three doubleheaders against the same opponent. The loss in the nightcap Saturday doubled as Purdue’s sixth consecutive rubber game defeat dating back May 2012. In three of the last four weekends, the Boilers have won the series opener but lost the series.
Purdue was unable to make its 4-0 and 5-2 leads hold up in game one. The Boilermakers managed only five singles in game two as MSU starter Cam Vieaux (5-2) went the distance for his first collegiate complete game. The lefty retired Purdue’s final 10 batters of the game as well as 21 of the last 23.
The back and forth first game featured the Boilers scoring in three consecutive innings to open up a 5-2 advantage. Michigan State (20-13, 5-4 Big Ten) put up two runs in three straight frames and scored the go-ahead tally in the bottom of the seventh on a sacrifice fly.
Purdue starting pitchers Gavin Downs and Brett Haan (1-1) both gave the team a chance to win, but weren’t given the opportunity to pitch deep into the games. Downs was lifted after the fourth inning of game one with the Boilers up 5-2. Haan gave way to the bullpen with one out and two aboard in the fifth inning with game two tied 1-1. While Purdue used five pitchers in both games and eight on the day, the Spartans used only three on the afternoon.
Joe Eichmann got out of a pair of jams with inherited runners on base by retiring the first man he faced in both games. The junior has pitched in each of the first nine Big Ten games this year and a Big Ten-high 20 total. He left the bases loaded in game one and stranded two inherited runners in the nightcap. For the season, he has allowed only four of 32 inherited runners to score. Tim McElroy also pitched in all three games of the series this weekend.
Kyle Wood finished the day 3-for-8 with a hit in both games to extend his reached-safely streak to 17 consecutive games. Cody Strong delivered a game-tying single in the seventh inning of game one and also had three hits on the day. Kyle Johnson’s two-run triple in the fourth inning of game one was the Boilers’ first three-bagger of the season.
Purdue returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Butler at 5 p.m.
Game One Recap:
The six runs the Boilers scored against MSU starter Justin Alleman represented the most the right-hander had allowed in a start this year. But Purdue was unable to come through with a big hit late in the game when it needed one against closer Jeff Kinley (1-1). The Boilermakers left runners on first and second in the eighth and couldn’t plate Strong after his two-out double in the top of the ninth.
Steve Maniago’s big game Friday carried over to his first at-bat Saturday as he delivered an RBI single to plate Jack Picchiotti in the third inning. The following frame, Sean McHugh, Wood and Johnson all hit safely to begin the inning, highlighted by Johnson’s triple to left field. Cam Gibson tried to make a diving catch but the ball got past him and rolled to the wall. Picchiotti plated Johnson with a sacrifice fly to left center.
Purdue was unable to turn double plays in the fourth and fifth innings. An error in both frames coupled with a combined five hits allowed MSU to make a big dent in the Boilers’ lead. Picchiotti turned a base hit to left field into a run-scoring play after he let the ball get away. The extra base cost Purdue another run on a two-out single from Ryan Richardson.
The Spartans had already cut the lead to 5-3 an inning later when Mike Lutz induced a ground ball to third base with two men aboard and one out. Strong’s throw on the back end of the double play try skipped past Wood at first and allowed another unearned run to score.
Four consecutive MSU batters reached base safely with two outs in the sixth inning. Michigan State tied the game on Anthony Cheky’s triple to right center and a bases-loaded walk later gave the home team its first lead of the series.
In the top of the seventh, Krieg doubled in front of Strong’s game-tying single, which chased Alleman.
Eichmann (0-1) had kept Purdue in the game by getting Joel Fisher on a foul pop to end the seventh with the bases loaded. But a leadoff double and two fly balls gave MSU the lead again in the bottom of the seventh. Ryan Krill was able to move into third base with only one out on a fly ball to right field off the bat of Richardson.
Game Two Recap:
Wood and Johnson were aboard in the top of the second when Picchiotti delivered a two-out single to right field. Wood scored the tying run but Johnson was thrown out at the plate by Jimmy Pickens after Fisher did a nice job blocking the plate. Purdue did not have multiple base runners in an inning the rest of the game.
Cheky’s leadoff triple into the left field corner in the first inning led to an early run after a sacrifice fly to deep left field followed. Three straight one-out singles from the first three hitters in the MSU lineup led to the go-ahead run in the bottom of the fifth.
Michigan State stranded 10 runners in the nightcap to help keep the Boilers in the game. McHugh threw out Richardson trying to steal in MSU’s only true stolen base try of the weekend. The catcher also picked off a runner at second base in game one Saturday.
Picchiotti made a nice sliding catch on a sinking line drive off the bat of Fisher with runners on first and second in the seventh inning to help Matt Frawley get out of a jam. It turned into an inning-ending double play after the runner was doubled off second base.