COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Buckeyes rallied from an eight-run deficit to score six runs in the bottom of the sixth, but fell just short in a 10-8 loss to Purdue Sunday afternoon at Buckeye Field. Ohio State (10-27, 2-8 Big Ten) tied the game, 2-2, in the bottom of the fourth, however a seven-run fifth by the Boilermakers opened up the game before the Scarlet and Gray came charging from behind in front of the their home crowd.
“I challenged our team this morning to fight harder in the circle and in the batter’s box and I thought we did that,” head coach Linda Kalafatis said. “It’s disappointing that the game resulted in the loss, but we gave ourselves an opportunity to win.”
It was a wild one in Big Ten action with winds gusting up to 40 miles per hour in the Columbus area. The box score included a combined 18 runs, 23 hits and five errors.
Offensively, Ohio State was led by junior co-captain Alicia Herron, who went 3-for-4 at the plate with a home run, a double, two runs and two RBI, while freshman Evelyn Carrillo was 2-for-4 with an RBI and senior Brittany Goodchild was 2-for-4 with a run scored.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Buckeyes loaded the bases following back-to-back singles by sophomore Megan Coletta and Goodchild. After freshman Melissa Rennie reached base safely following an error at third base, the Boilermaker defense made a second error – this time at second base – to make it 10-3. Freshman Leesa Gresham then stepped up to the plate and knocked an RBI single to center for the second Buckeye run of the inning. After a fielder’s choice by Brittany Mills plated Rennie from third base, Herron came up and crushed an RBI double down the left field line scoring pinch runner Julia Pecina all the way from first base to make it 10-6. Senior co-captain Dee Dee Hillman then drove in Mills when she singled to second base to cut the Purdue lead to three runs. The Buckeyes then batted around in the lineup when Carrillo notched an RBI single down the left field line, scoring Herron to make it 10-8.
However, Purdue starting pitcher Suzie Rzegocki was able to record the final four outs of the inning to deny Ohio State the huge come-from-behind performance to improve to 23-11 on the season. OSU starting pitcher Kasie Kelly falls to 3-6 on the season, allowing six earned runs with a strikeout in 6.1 innings of work.
In the first inning, Herron things off with a single, however, the Boilermakers got two quick outs after Hillman lined out to the Purdue shortstop, who fired across the infield to first base to complete the double play.
In the second, the Boilermakers took a 2-0 lead when Erika Petruzzi connected on the first pitch off Kelly for a two-run home run over the center field wall. Kim McMillan began the inning with a double to right center field.
In the third, the Buckeyes cut their deficit in half with one swing of the bat by Herron. The Buckeye shortstop sent a 1-2 pitch high into the air over the left field wall off Rzegocki to make it 2-1 – her sixth long ball of the season and 32nd of her career.
In the fourth, after Kelly put down the Purdue bats in order with three groundouts, the Scarlet and Gray look to take their momentum to the plate. Carrillo opened the inning with a single up the middle followed by an infield single by Goodchild. After Coletta put down a perfect sacrifice bunt, the Buckeyes were in business with runners on second and third.
Rennie, a native of Wellington, Ohio, then stepped into the box with the suicide squeeze called into action from coach Kalafatis. With pinch runner Alyson Mott charging down the third base line as Rzegocki fired to the plate, Rennie laid down the RBI sacrifice bunt to make it 2-2 with the Buckeye sophomore scoring on the play.
However, in the top of the fifth, the Boilermakers posted a seven-run inning for the second time this weekend to open up the game, 9-2. Kelly was then relieved following back-to-back one-out RBI hits to make it 4-2. With senior pitcher Karisa Medrano now in the circle, the Purdue bats continued to find solid contact following a two-run single by Pertuzzi followed by a three-run home run just over the left field wall by Shelby Krammer.
Purdue had just four hits through four innings of competition before notching seven hits in the fifth frame.
Kelly returned to the circle to begin the top of the circle for the Buckeyes. With runners on second and third, Pertuzzi claimed her fifth RBI of the day with a groundout to second base to make it 10-2.
Herron’s multi-hit performance is her 12th of 2011 (team-high) and 47th of her Buckeye career. The native of Cypress, Calif., leads the team in hits (41), runs (30), doubles (9), total bases (72) and is tied for team with six home runs this year.
The Buckeyes will next travel to Athens, Ohio, for a midweek doubleheader against the Bobcats, beginning at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Ohio Softball Field.