Bears Fall Behind Early, Can't Catch No. 28 Purdue
March 13, 2012
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Missouri State limited the nation's top hitting team to four runs, but its offense couldn't solve Purdue's pitching in a 4-2 setback at Hammons Field Tuesday evening. Clay Murphy turned in another strong starting performance for the Bears (12-5), striking-out eight Boilermakers over seven-plus innings, but the visitors scored three times in the first three innings and made the lead stand to win their 12th game in 13 outings this season.
Entering the game with a team .376 batting average, Purdue wasted little time in showing off their offensive prowess. The Boilermakers grabbed the upper hand in the second inning, capitalizing on a Kevin Plawecki leadoff double and two-out, run-scoring singles by David Miller and Stephen Talbott to take a 2-0 lead over Murphy and the Bears. They would extend the margin to three runs the following inning when Eric Charles and Cameron Perkins delivered back-to-back doubles with one out.
With the three-run cushion in hand, Boilermaker freshman starter Connor Podkul controlled the MSU offense throughout his 4 1/3 innings. The right-hander retired the first seven batters of the game and 12 of the first 14 overall in his first collegiate start. Missouri State finally saw a batter reach base with two out in the third when Podkul plunked Koby Peebles with a 2-2 pitch. A wild pitch would move Peebles into scoring position, but Podkul preserved his 3-0 lead by coaxing Spiker Helms to line out to third to end the inning.
The Bears broke their scoring seal in the fifth after recording their first two hits of the night to chase Podkul from the contest. Dylan Becker led-off the frame with a line drive into right field and moved over to third when Peebles doubled to right with one out. After a Purdue pitching change, pinch hitter Conor Smith put MSU on the board with a sacrifice fly to center.
Luke Voit narrowed the gap even further in the seventh, when the junior catcher drilled a leadoff homer over the wall in right-center field to pull MSU to within 3-2.
But Perkins answered right back against Murphy in the top of the eighth, lifting a towering drive into the Bears' bullpen in left to re-establish the two-run margin for the Boilermakers.
That would be all lefty reliever Blake Mascarello (4-0) and right-handed closer Nick Wittgren would need to finish off the win. Mascarello, who struck-out the side to strand the tying run in the seventh, earned the victory, and Wittgren closed out his fourth save of the season with two scoreless innings. The Bears put runners on in both the eighth and ninth innings, but each time Wittgren avoided trouble, getting key strikeouts of Brent Seifert and Peebles to squash the comeback bids.
In all, the three Purdue pitchers combined to hold the Bears to just four hits on the night.
Miller led Purdue's 11-hit attack with a 3-for-4 night, while Talbot, Plawecki, Charles and Perkins each contributed two hits.
Becker paced MSU's offense with two hits and a run scored in four trips to the plate, and freshman reliever Zach Merciez worked two scoreless innings to finish the game. Murphy (2-1) was tagged with his first loss of the season after allowing nine hits and all four Purdue runs.
The Bears begin their split four-game series with Oral Roberts Thursday evening with a 6:30 p.m. contest at J.L. Johnson Stadium in Tulsa, Okla. MSU and ORU will play again Friday at 3 p.m. in Tulsa, before wrapping up the series with two games at Hammons Field, Saturday (2 p.m.) and Sunday (1 p.m.).