PICATAWAY, N.J. (PurdueSports.com) – Trent Johnson struck out eight over six shutout innings of two-hit ball and Purdue baseball scored six times over the final three frames to break open a pitcher’s duel, winning 6-2 at Rutgers on Saturday to even the series.
The Boilermakers (13-24, 6-7 B1G) struck out 13 batters, posting their 16th double-figure total of the season. Bo Hofstra closed out the win by recording eight outs, four via the strikeout. He earned his fifth save of the season, four coming in Big Ten play.
Johnson worked six scoreless innings in his longest outing as a Boilermaker. He needed only 83 pitches to get through six innings in his first start of the season. In two career starts against the Scarlet Knights (14-21, 6-5 B1G), the sophomore has pitched 11 consecutive shutout innings.
Johnny Sage and Tyler Powers both scored when Rutgers third baseman Carmen Sclafani threw away Milo Beam’s sacrifice bunt in the seventh inning. Zac Fascia’s two-run single in the ninth inning capped a four-run, two-out rally as Purdue blew it open late. Bryce Bonner and Cole McKenzie both drew bases-loaded walks as three Rutgers relievers combined to issue five walks in the frame.
• Purdue ended RU’s five-game win streak in Big Ten play. The Scarlet Knights’ streak of 24 consecutive scoreless innings in league play ended when the Boilermakers scored twice in the top of the seventh.
• Purdue has surrendered only two earned runs over 17 innings in the series, registering 19 strikeouts vs. 12 hits allowed.
• Andrew Bohm and Trent Johnson have teamed up to give the Boilermakers’ official quality starts (6 IP, 3 ER or fewer) in consecutive games for the second time this season. Bohm and Patrick J. Smith also accomplished the feat in the first two games of the Jacksonville State series (March 15-17).
• Skyler Hunter drew a pair of walks, reaching base safely for the 36th consecutive game against a Big Ten opponent. His career-best 14-game hit streak came to an end, but he has reached base safely in 18 straight games overall, matching Cole McKenzie for the longest streak on the team this year.
• Johnny Sage reached base safely three times, drawing a leadoff walk to open both innings in which Purdue scored.
• Johnson struck out the side in the third and fifth innings, accomplishing the feat in order vs. RU’s 7-8-9 hitters in the bottom of the third. He struck out five his first time through the lineup and worked three true 1-2-3 frames.
• Hofstra struck out the final two batters of the seventh and eighth innings. He escaped a bases-loaded jam and then stranded the potential tying run at third base in the bottom of the eighth by fanning Rutgers’ No. 3 and 4 hitters.
The Boilermakers recorded six hits over the first six innings but were unable to score. Walks and errors helped Purdue score six times over the final three innings despite recording just one hit during that stretch. Leadoff singles by Fascia and McKenzie were erased when both runners were cut down on the bases by non-force outs.
Dalton Parker returned to the mound for the first time since starting the March 1 series opener at Oral Roberts. He faced three batters in the seventh inning, striking out RU’s cleanup hitter Sclafani.
Ryan Howe and Sage made the top defensive plays of the game. Howe made a diving stop in the hole between first and second base to take away a leadoff single from RU’s nine-hole hitter in the sixth inning. Sage made a fine running catch in deep right field to prevent a leadoff double in the bottom of the fourth.
Sunday’s rubber game is set for 11 a.m. ET. James Kulak is slated to start on the mound for the Boilermakers.
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