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Purdue loss leaves baseball Bearcats searching for complete game

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UC fell to Purdue on Tuesday, 7-4, but as they move forward they search to combine the periodic offensive surges with the periodic excellent pitching to find a complete game to start a winning streak. 

By Ashley Davis/Special to GoBearcats.com

CINCINNATI -- In what felt like a blink of an eye, head coach Brian Cleary's Bearcats were down 4-0 to Purdue Tuesday at Marge Schott Stadium, a game in which UC eventually lost 7-4.

Redshirt junior Christian McElroy had a shaky start, giving up four runs in the first inning. He got the first two outs relatively quickly, but then had some problems with control. At one point, he hit a batter, walked a batter, hit another batter and walked another batter, in that order.

"We obviously needed a better start," Cleary said.

McElroy ended up pitching three innings and giving up six runs on six hits, walking five and striking out three.

After going 4-6 with a 4.41 ERA in 2012 and finishing sixth in the Big East in fewest hits allowed (59), McElroy was drafted in the 32nd round by the Cincinnati Reds in 2012, but chose to stay at UC another year.

However, McElroy hasn't started the 2013 season the way he would want, coming into the Purdue game with a 1-2 record and a 5.40 ERA. His ERA jumped to 7.71 after yesterday's game.

If there was one positive thing to take away from the game (besides the mini-rally UC put together in the bottom of the ninth), it was the 
bullpen work turned in by senior Thomas Gentile and freshman Mark Downs.

Gentile relieved McElroy and pitched five innings, giving up six hits and two runs, one earned, with five strikeouts and two walks. His mindset coming out of the bullpen in a situation like that is to not allow the opposing team's lead to get any larger.

"First thing you want to do is eliminate a big inning and control what you can, coming in and trying to minimize damage," Gentile said. "Try to give up the least amount of runs as  possible.Obviously zero's the best, but sometimes that doesn't always happen."

Cleary was satisfied with the way Gentile pitched, but was still concerned about the two runs he gave up early in his appearance.

"I thought he got better as he went," Cleary said. "After getting out of that first being down four, every run after that is like two. You really just can't afford to give up any more runs until you get yourself back in the game."

Cleary, however, was pleased to be able to get freshman Mark Downs into the game in the ninth. Downs pitched one inning and retired all three Purdue batters he faced during his third appearance of the season.

The Bearcats don't have a lot of time to think about their fourth consecutive loss as they head to Lexington Wednesday for a date with No. 9 Kentucky.

Gentile has the right attitude, though. His team has hit well during some games and pitched well during other games. They just have to put together a complete, all-around game.

"Some days we pitch well, but we don't hit well or play well defensively," he said. "Some days we don't pitch well, but we hit very well. So we just got to put all of it together. [But] that's the beauty of baseball; there's always another day or another game right around the corner."

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