HATTIESBURG, Miss. (Purdue Sports) — In a game that was a battle big innings, No. 21 Southern Miss took control of the contest with a five-run bottom of the sixth that led to 12 unanswered runs, defeating Purdue baseball 16-7 Sunday in the finale of the season-opening series.
The Golden Eagles (3-0) swept the weekend thanks to a 20-4 scoring edge in the sixth through 10th innings. The Boilermakers (0-3) held at least a two-run lead at one point in all three games. They carried the lead into the bottom of the sixth inning Saturday (2-0) and Sunday (7-4) after being up 6-4 going into the bottom of the eighth Friday.
Purdue scored five times in the second inning to quickly overcome USM's four-run bottom of the first. The visitors carried a three-run lead into the sixth inning, but six free passes in the frame, including three bases-loaded walks, helped the Golden Eagles to take the lead back. They blew the game open with a seven-spot in bottom of the eighth.
Ben Nisle and Zac Fascia connected for consecutive doubles to left field to ignite the Boilermakers' five-run rally in the second inning. Both players finished with multiple hits. Fascia was 2-for-3 with a walk, two RBI and a sacrifice fly. He finished his first weekend with Purdue 4-for-7 while producing seven productive plate appearances in 10 trips to the dish.
Fellow newcomer Cole McKenzie hit safely in all three games, finishing the weekend 4-for-12 with a .467 on-percentage in the leadoff spot. Redshirt-freshman Patrick W. Smith's first collegiate hit was a two-run single with the bases loaded in the second inning, tying the score at 4-4 and chasing USM starter Jarod Wright.
Purdue starter Andrew Bohm gave up four runs before he recorded an out, the big blow being a three-run homer to center field by preseason All-American Matt Wallner. But Bohm regrouped and retired 13 of the final 16 batters he faced, including seven in a row at one point. He posted three consecutive zeros as the Boilermakers built their 7-4 lead. He also teamed with Matt Moore for a zero vs. the heart of the Southern Miss lineup in the bottom of the fifth.
The decisive sixth inning featured a stretch in which five consecutive batters came to the plate without the ball being put in play. There were two strikeouts and two walks during that stretch, all with the bases loaded. Wallner delivered the big hit – a two-strike, two-out, two-run single into left field to give USM the lead back at 8-7.
A lefty-lefty battle between Patrick J. Smith and the Golden Eagles' No. 2 hitter, Matthew Guidry, was another key point in the long inning. Guidry fouled off multiple full-count pitches during a 10-pitch at-bat, eventually drawing a bases-loaded walk. Smith came back to strike out Hunter Slater, who tormented the Boilermakers for much of the weekend and finished the series 8-for-13. Smith was also up in the count on Wallner, but was unable to finish off the big cleanup hitter.
Kyle Wade finally brought the inning to a close with a strikeout. The three outs in the frame were all via the strikeout and were recorded by three different Purdue pitchers. Wade went on to retire the first four batters he faced in his collegiate debut after also working a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
In his collegiate debut after redshirting in 2018, Hayden Wynja later struck out Slater and Wallner consecutively, bringing the long eighth inning to a close as the third pitcher of the frame.
Tyler Powers made the top defensive play of the day, a diving catch in short right field with his back to home plate. That took a potential bloop single away from Wallner in the third inning after Slater had singled moments earlier.
The Boilermakers manufactured runs nicely in the fifth inning, scoring twice to extend their lead to 7-4. Skyler Hunter led off with a bunt single and Nisle followed with a base hit. After a wild pitch, both runners scored on a sacrifice flies from Fascia and Owen Jansen. Nisle stole third to give himself a chance to score on the one-out fly ball.
Purdue was swept in a season-opening series for the first time since 2014 at Tennessee. A May 2014 series at Minnesota marked the last time the Boilermakers were swept even while holding the lead at one point in all three games.
Purdue returns to action Friday when it opens a four-game series at No. 19 Texas. It will be the program's first visit to Austin since 2005. All four games are scheduled to be televised live by the Longhorn Network.
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