In a midweek break from conference play, Purdue dropped a tightly contested battle 4-3 to Indiana State.
The Sycamores (22-4, 1-2 MVC) were vaulted to victory in the ninth inning by a deep lineout from senior designated hitter Romeo Harris, which scored junior Noah Brimbury to give Indiana State the lead.
Junior pitcher Tyler Grauer closed out the game for Indiana State as it held off the Boilers (10-17, 4-1 Big Ten).
Leading Purdue offensively was freshman second baseman Ryan Howe, who went 2-of-4 from the plate with an RBI, while Indiana State was led by committee, as nine players picked up hits in the game.
Making his third career start for the Boilers was freshman pitcher James Kulak. Similarly, Indiana State started another freshman, Max Klein, who made only his second career start.
It was a short outing for the two starting pitchers, as Kulak lasted just over two innings, giving up 4 earned runs and two hits. On the other hand, Klein lasted two innings, giving up three hits and striking out two Purdue batters.
The Sycamores had a strong defensive start, shutting down Purdue while taking a 2-0 lead after three innings. Senior center fielder Luke Fegen and Harris picked up the early game RBIs.
The Boilers got on the board in the fourth inning, when Howe hit a line-drive triple to center field, scoring junior catcher Zach Fascia.
A highlight play came in the top of the fifth inning, when Purdue sophomore third baseman Tyler Powers sprinted into foul territory to track down a tough foul ball, almost running into the catcher, Fascia, in the process.
“I was just playing straight up, and I knew it was between me and Zach (Fascia), our catcher, and I knew I was going to go after it hard and luckily I was able to come up with it,” Powers said.
Tying the game for Purdue in the fifth inning was junior pinch-hitting left fielder Johnny Sage, who hit a hanging fastball to right field for an RBI double.
In the top of the seventh inning, arguably the most impressive play of the night was made. After tracking down a fly ball in left field, Sage gunned a throw across the field to first base, which was caught by senior first baseman Nick Evarts. Evarts then tagged out the Indiana State runner, who was cheating off the base for the double play.
“I pretty much just ran over to the ball and I heard my teammates yelling, so it was pretty cool to have that communication with the team in a pretty big play,” Sage said.
The Boilers took their first lead in the bottom of the inning when freshman shortstop Evan Albrecht scored Powers on a fielder’s choice. Powers earned his way around the bases, advancing to second on a wild pitch then stealing third to give Albrecht the opportunity to score him.
The Sycamores were helped by a wild pitch from Purdue sophomore pitcher Trent Johnson in the top of the eighth, which scored senior left fielder Joe Boyle to tie the game at 3-3. Thus, Indiana State was given the opportunity to win the game in the ninth inning, which it took advantage of.
The Boilers entered the game winners of six of their last seven games. Starting the year 4-15, it has been somewhat of a rebuilding year for Purdue, following the loss of seniors which helped lead them to an NCAA Regional appearance last season.
Conversely, the Sycamores started their season by winning an impressive 20 of their first 22 games, before losing two of their last three. Also, Indiana State started eight seniors in its batting order while Purdue only starting one senior in its batting order. Ironically, the Sycamores are under .500 in conference play within the MVC, losing two of the three games they have played.
Last season, the Boilers and Sycamores split a two-game series played at Indiana State in Terre Haute.
The Boilermakers return to Big Ten play on Friday, when they travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to take on the Cornhuskers in a three-game weekend series.