Auburn got the tying run into scoring position with one out in the ninth but could not find a way to bring it home as it fell, 9-8, to Purdue on Friday night at Plainsman Park. The loss drops Auburn's record to 6-5 while Purdue, the preseason pick to win the Big Ten, improves to 6-1.
"Give Purdue credit; they came out here and they beat us," Auburn Coach John Pawlowski said. "They put a lot of hits on the board and made it very difficult for us."
Cullen Wacker, who finished the game 2-for-5 with a double, his first career triple and a career-high four RBIs, brought the crowd to its feet in the ninth as his one-out double drove in Creede Simpson and Ryan Tella to draw Auburn within a run. Purdue closer Nick Wittgren then got a fly out and a strike out to end the game, stranding Wacker on second to pick up his second save of the season.
Auburn dug itself a four-run hole after the top of the second as Purdue, which finished with 17 hits, jumped on Auburn starter Derek Varnadore for seven hits in the first two frames. Varnadore would settle down to work into the sixth, allowing five runs (four earned) on 11 hits and a walk while striking out three, leaving with a man on third and one out with Auburn ahead, 5-4.
"Derek battled for us. The first two innings we were down 4-0 and it is tough to get some momentum going, but we battled back," Pawlowski said. "We had a one-run lead but we needed to execute a few more pitches out of the bullpen. Defensively we didn't play very well. We had some miscues that I thought we should have handled."
Dillon Ortman (0-1) would allow the man on third to score on a sac fly to tie it at 5-5 before retiring the seventh in order. A leadoff single in the eighth then sparked a three-run inning for Purdue, capped by Kevin Plawecki's two-run single off of Zach Blatt to go up 8-5.
Purdue tacked on what seemed like an insurance run but what turned into the difference in the ninth off of Chase Williamson, using a base hit, a sacrifice, a pair of errors and a RBI groundout to bring the run home and go up 9-5 before Auburn's furious ninth-inning rally.
Simpson finished the game 3-for-5 with a RBI and two runs scored while Ryan Tella was 2-for-2 with three walks and three runs scored.
Purdue's Blake Mascarello (2-0) earned the win out of the bullpen despite entering in the fifth and allowing five runs (three earned) on four hits and three walks in 3 2/3 innings.
Auburn returns to the field at 4pm tomorrow when it faces Charleston Southern, which fell, 16-2, to Southern Miss in the first game of the tournament on Friday. Southern Miss faces Purdue at noon.
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