A Gavin Downs complete game not enough for Purdue

Photo Courtesy: Purdue Sports
Photo Courtesy: Purdue Sports

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) – Gavin Downs went the distance on the mound to post the Boilermakers’ first official complete game since February 2013, but Purdue baseball lost a pitcher’s duel with Ohio State, 2-0, Saturday evening at Alexander Field.

The Buckeyes’ Ryan Riga struck out nine over 7 2/3 innings of three-hit ball in his first appearance on the mound since March 28. Offensively, OSU recorded three of its five hits in the fourth inning, scoring both of its runs in the frame.

The Boilermakers had two bases runners in each of the last two innings to bring the go-ahead run to the plate twice, but were unable to come up with a big two-out hit. Conner Hudnall’s leadoff single in the bottom of the fifth was Purdue’s last hit of the day.

A key series rubber game is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. With Purdue (11-28, 5-9 Big Ten) and Ohio State (24-19, 5-9 Big Ten) tied in the standings, Sunday’s winner will not only pull ahead but also grab a potential tiebreaker as the teams chase a Big Ten Tournament berth. The Boilermakers have lost seven straight rubber games dating back to May 2012. The Buckeyes are 2-1 in rubber games this season but have only played in one over their first four weekends of the Big Ten schedule.

After teammate Jordan Minch threw over 130 pitches to get through nine innings Friday, Downs needed only 93 for his first collegiate complete game. The right-hander retired the final nine batters he faced and 16 of the final 17 beginning with the final out of the top of the fourth. The Fort Wayne native joined Adam Dressler as Purdue’s only starting pitchers to not issue a walk in an outing this season. Dressler is slated to make his first start in Big Ten play Sunday.

Consecutive singles from the top of the OSU lineup in the fourth inning led to the two-run rally. After a sacrifice bunt, Pat Porter came through with a sacrifice fly to center field. Josh Dezse followed with his second RBI double of the series.

The Boilermakers received leadoff singles from Cody Strong and Hudnall in consecutive innings in the middle of the game but could not take advantage. Consecutive two-out walks to Brandon Krieg and Strong brought Riga’s outing to an end in the bottom of the eighth. But Tyler Giannonatti got Sean McHugh to ground out to shortstop to end the threat. Jack Picchiotti reached on an error and Hudnall walked against OSU closer Trace Dempsey with two outs in the ninth, but pinch hitter Michael Mullen flew out to center field to end the game.

Kyle Wood was hit by a pitch with a 3-1 count in the fourth inning to extend his reached base safely streak to 20 consecutive games.

Robert Ramer and Minch had each worked nine-plus innings in a start since Purdue’s last complete game (by Ramer) in February 2013, but both outings came in extra-innings games.

Sunday’s game is also the second annual “Bark in the Park” promotion in which fans are permitted to bring their dogs to the ballpark. First pitch is at 1 p.m.

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