HATTIESBURG, Miss. (Purdue Sports) — Purdue baseball built a two-run lead as Ryan Beard posted five consecutive zeros to begin the game, but No. 21 Southern Miss used a three-run sixth inning to take game 2 of the series 4-2 Saturday.
All 14 hits in the game were singles. The Boilermakers (0-2) were limited to three hits as USM pitchers Stevie Powers (1-0) and Cody Carroll teamed up to retire 19 of the final 20 Purdue batters. That stretch included five straight 1-2-3 innings from the fourth through eighth after the Boilermakers did not go down in 1-2-3 fashion at any point in Friday's season opener.
Four singles and a throwing error after a fly out to the warning track in right field helped the Golden Eagles (2-0) score three times in the bottom of the sixth. The tying run scored from second base on the fly ball to right after Johnny Sage's throw from the track eluded the Purdue infielders. The trail runner also moved up to second base on the play.
It proved to be a key 90 feet for both baserunners because Brant Blaylock was able to score on Storme Cooper's two-out, seeing-eye single. First baseman Cole McKenzie and second baseman Owen Jansen both got a piece of the ground ball to the right side of the infield, but neither Boilermaker could snare it cleanly.
Freshman James Kulak replaced Beard on the mound after the ugly sequence on the fly out to right field tied the game. In his collegiate debut, Kulak struck out the first batter he faced and then went to a full count against Cooper, whose single was the only hit Kulak allowed vs. 10 batters faced.
Beard (0-1) pitched to contact effectively and recorded a number of big outs while working from the stretch. The senior stranded multiple baserunners in the first and third innings. He also induced and started an inning-ending 1-6-3 double play with two men aboard in the bottom of the fourth. But after working a 1-2-3 frame in the fifth, USM's 3-4-5 hitters strung together three straight singles to open the next inning. The middle hit of the trio was a line shot back to the mound that caromed off Beard's body. He induced a ground ball from the next batter, but it got past Nick Evarts at third base and went for an RBI single.
Purdue only had baserunners in three of the nine innings. Powers and Carroll did not issue a free pass. Ben Nisle and Charlie Nasuti singled back to back to open the top of the second. Bryce Bonner's fielder's choice plated Nisle and accounted for the visiting team's lone RBI.
Nisle also made a nice diving catch in left field with a runner on first base in the second inning. Kulak was able to pitch over the fly ball Nisle dropped in the bottom of the seventh.
McKenzie scored on a two-out balk in the third inning to make it 2-0. But the Boilermakers did not have another baserunner until McKenzie singled to open the top of the ninth.
Powers recorded four of his six strikeouts on his second trip through the Purdue lineup, retiring the final 11 batters he faced. He and Carroll teamed up to record 14 ground ball outs.
Sunday's series finale has been moved up to an 11:30 a.m. ET first pitch due to rain in the forecast.