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Indiana loses rubber match for second straight weekend, drops series at Purdue

It came down to the last pitch of the weekend, as Indiana lost two out of three games in its series at Purdue.

After taking a 17-0 thrashing from the Boilermakers to begin the series on Saturday, the Hoosiers rebounded with a 10-3 victory in the first half of Sunday’s doubleheader. 

In a rubber match that was nearly four hours long, Purdue outlasted Indiana 16-15 for a series-deciding victory. A two-RBI single from Purdue outfielder Curtis Washington put the Boilermakers ahead 16-14 in the bottom of the sixth inning.

In the ninth inning, Phillip Glasser tripled to begin a two-out rally for the Hoosiers. In the ensuing at-bat, Matthew Ellis singled to bring Glasser home. Ethan Vecrumba pinch ran for Ellis, as a single from Brock Tibbits advanced Vecrumba to second base. A wild pitch sent Vecrumba to third and Tibbits to second. Josh Pyne then walked, leaving the bases loaded.

Carter Mathison stepped to the plate with a chance to tie or take the lead for IU, but Griffin Lohman froze Mathison with a third strike to log the save and finish the series for Purdue.

The Hoosiers have now lost the Sunday rubber match in both of their Big Ten series to this point. IU is 12-18 on the year and 2-4 in Big Ten play.

Samuel Murrison was a standout for IU on Sunday, as he went 3-for-5 with a home run and five RBIs to begin the doubleheader and went yard again with a three-run blast in the second game of the day.

“I just felt good at the plate all day,” Murrison said following his fantastic Sunday at the plate.

Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer said that Murrison was “incredible” for the Hoosiers in the doubleheader.

“He was able to get pitches in the areas that he likes on the plate and when he got them, he didn’t miss them," Mercer said.

Indiana’s pitching struggles continued throughout the weekend as the Hoosiers now have a conference-worst 7.34 ERA. The Hoosiers are still searching for a reliable third-day starter to finish their weekend series. IU has used a plethora of pitchers to end series, but none of them have been able to remain a starter.

“The big thing is just helping those guys learn how to pitch, learn how to control their emotions and just execute pitches,” Mercer said.

Nathan Stahl started and was pulled early for the third Sunday in a row after allowing six earned runs in two innings of work in the second game of the doubleheader. This was Stahl’s third start in eight days, with none of those starts lasting over two innings.

Despite losing a second consecutive series, Mercer came away from Sunday's games optimistic.

“We competed like absolute warriors the entire day, all 18 innings of the entire day,” Mercer said. “There’s a lot of teams that would not have shown up and competed like that (after Saturday’s loss).”

Indiana will head on the road this week, where its pitching will again be in question. Mercer said the team plans to “staff” (use multiple pitchers in short increments) Tuesday’s bout at Indiana State. Jack Perkins and Bradley Brehmer are expected to start the first two games of the weekend series at Rutgers before the Hoosiers attempt to staff the final game of that series next Sunday.

The level of competition isn’t getting any easier for IU, as Indiana State (19-8) and Rutgers (25-6, 8-1 in the Big Ten) are both top-60 RPI squads. The Hoosiers will look to reverse their luck on the mound as another tough week away from home looms. 

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