Three Auburn pitchers combined to allow just one earned run to the Boilermakers as the Tigers improved to 15-2 this season. The loss drops Purdue to 4-3 overall.
Coach Tommy Slater says the win was hard-fought facing off against a pitcher as talented as Purdue starter Josh Lindblom.
A transfer from Tennessee, Lindblom did as well as anyone so far this season in keeping Auburn's bats silenced throughout the game. In six innings he gave up just two earned runs on eight hits while striking out seven. On this night his performance wouldn't be enough though as Auburn's Bryan Woodall, Justin Bristow and Scott Shuman matched him pitch-for-pitch.
Allowing just four hits and no earned runs in five and two/thirds, Woodall set the tone for the game with Bristow and Shuman keeping Purdue at bay in the victory. Slater says both sides deserve credit for a great pitching showcase Friday night.
"Lindblom showed why he was a third-rounder out of high school and was a starter in this league last year," Slater says. "That was a first fastball and he spun his breaking ball for a strike. He was good tonight. It was good for our guys to see that kind of guy on a Friday night because that's a Friday night guy. We had our chances. We had an opportunity early to extend the lead and to his credit he made some pitches.
"Woody was real good," he adds. "He threw 79 pitches and got hit in the knee. He might have gone a little farther, but it tightened up a little bit. He was really good. I thought Bristow was solid as he has been just about every time out of the pen. Shuman, that's pretty good stuff for that young man to come in and do that."
Woodall was hit on the knee but Slater says he should be fine but will be looked at this coming week.
With the pitching outstanding on both sides it was fitting that the game would come down to the ninth inning. After Shuman held the Boilermakers scoreless following a single and then hitting the second batter with a pitch, the Tigers came out in the ninth with pinch-hitter Ben Jones stepping to the plate. Performing well all season in his role off the bench, Jones again came through as he drilled a single to center field off Purdue reliever Allan Donato. That would bring Coleman into the game as Purdue went to the bullpen again for reliever Andrew Groves.
A sacrifice bunt by Eric Skinner moved Coleman to second base with Bruce Edwards coming to the plate. Deciding to play the percentages, the Boilermakers walked Edwards intentionally to bring Greinke to the plate. Knowing that it would likely get to him with a chance to win the game, Greinke says he went to the plate looking for something particular.
"I was just glad to see a hard thrower because the breaking ball has been hurting me a little bit," Greinke says. "I knew he was throwing the fastball and I was looking up the middle. That's what I did. I ran to first and I was watching Travis. He was flying around the bases. I was glad to see him come in safe."
Facing one of the top arms they will see this season in Lindblom, Auburn got on the board early with Josh Donaldson providing the pop. With one out in the bottom of the first, Greinke singled to left field to put the Tigers in business and bring Donaldson to the plate.
Quickly getting down 0-2, Donaldson fought back to even the count before drilling a fastball over the head of the Purdue first baseman for a double. The hit scored Greinke easily and Donaldson moved to third when the right fielder misplayed the ball. That would be it for the inning though as a Mike Bianucci groundout and a Robert Brooks strikeout brought things to a close with Auburn up 1-0.
Cruising on the mound, both Woodall and Lindblom would get through the next inning before Auburn again challenged Lindblom. This time the big righty would come out on top. Leading off the bottom of the third, Skinner singled to left field and moved to second on a bunt single by Edwards. Attempting to bunt the runners over, Greinke got down two strikes before ripping a single to left field to load the bases for the heart of the Auburn order. On this night the duo of Donaldson and Bianucci wouldn't be enough as Lindblom blew away the two hitters on strikes before getting Brooks on a fly ball to end the threat with Auburn still ahead just 1-0.
Another scoreless inning later and it would be time for the Boilermakers to break through against Woodall on one of the biggest hard luck innings a pitcher could possibly have. Leading off, Dan Black hit a hot shot off the knee of Woodall for an infield single. Face down on the mound for two minutes, Woodall got back up, dusted himself off, and continued to pitch. Up next, John Cummins' ground ball to Brooks at second moved Black up to second with one out. After a wild pitch moved him to third, the excitement would begin.
With John Moore at the plate, Skinner got a ground ball to Donaldson at third and the junior immediately got Black in a rundown between third and the plate. Donaldson threw to Ryan Jenkins behind the plate who ran the runner back towards third where Skinner was waiting on the throw. Taking his eye off the ball, Skinner dropped it to allow the runner back to third. Now with two runners in scoring position, Alex Jaffee reached on an infield single that scored Black to tie the game. Then a passed ball charged to Jenkins allowed Moore to score and give Purdue the lead at 2-1. Without a ball leaving the infield, the Boilermakers took the lead with Lindblom looking to hold on for the win.
Auburn answered back though as Edwards worked his way into scoring position after being hit by a pitch. Moving to second on a Greinke ground ball, Edwards scored on Donaldson's second double of the game to even the score at two. One inning later the Tigers would take the lead back thanks to a Purdue defensive mistake. With one out, Ross Smith singled to center field and quickly moved to second on a wild pitch. That would prove to be a huge play as with two outs in the inning, Skinner hit a slow ground ball to the right side that hopped over the glove of Purdue second baseman Kyle Reesing into right field. The error allowed Smith to score and put Auburn back in the lead.
The lead would only last one inning as Bristow finally gave up his first run out of the bullpen this season in the top of the eighth. Leadoff man Jordan Comadena got things going with a sharp double to center field and Purdue's leading hitter Spencer Ingaldson followed with a single to left field that put runners on the corners with nobody out. Auburn got the first out of the inning and cut down Comadena at the same time as Ryne White hit a ground ball to Donaldson and he threw to Jenkins to cut down the lead runner for out number one. Designated hitter Andy Preston then loaded the bases once again with a ground ball that Skinner threw to Donaldson too late at third base trying to again cut down the lead runner. A sacrifice fly from Black easily scored Ingaldson from third to tie the game and set the stage for Auburn's dramatic ninth inning victory.
Greinke led the way for the Tigers at the plate with three hits and the game-winning RBI while Donaldson added two doubles and two runs batted in. Smith was the only other Tiger with two hits. For Purdue, Jaffee was the only player with two hits and the Boilermakers had just seven hits on the night.
The two teams get together for game two of the series on Saturday at 2 p.m. as sophomore Paul Burnside takes the mound for Auburn against Ricky Heines from Purdue.