A rough weekend in New Jersey started well for Purdue, but ended with a pair of tough losses to the Scarlet Knights because of costly mistakes. The Boilers won the Friday night contest to move to 7-2 on Friday nights, but dropped a close one on Saturday and continued to struggle on Sundays as they were blown out.
Friday: Purdue 7, Rutgers 6
Tanner Andrews moved to 5-2 on the season as he was able to keep Rutgers at bay in a back and forth game. He gave up four runs on eight hits and four walks in five and two thirds innings. Purdue trailed 1-0 after two, but grabbed three runs in the top of the third. Rutgers tied it in the bottom of the inning, but two runs in the fifth and seventh pushed Purdue in front 7-4.
Facing a bases loaded, no one out scenario in the ninth Ross Learnard gave up two sacrifice flies before ending the game with a clutch strikeout. Since the runs were not charged to Learnard he moved to 22 straight innings without giving up a run in earning his third save.
Nick Dalesandro drove in three runs on the day, while Evan Warden had two hits, scored twice, and drove in a run.
Saturday: Rutgers 7, Purdue 6
Mistakes cost Purdue this one, plain and simple. Rutgers scored five times in the fourth inning thanks to a passed ball, a failed pickoff attempt, and a critical error. Rutgers only got three hits in the inning, but two errors led to most of the runs being unearned. That turned a 4-1 Purdue lead into a 6-4 deficit and Purdue struggled to get back into it. In the 7th, 8th, and 9th Purdue had the tying run in scoring position but could not get the job done.
The most painful came in the ninth, as Harry Shipley was hit by a pitch to lead off the inning, but was caught stealing with Dalesandro at the plate. Dalesandro then struck out, but Skyler Hunter tripled to right and would have driven home the tying run had Shipley not gotten caught. Jacson McGowan then grounded out to end the game, stranding Hunter at third.
Gareth Stroh took the loss, but only three of the seven runs he gave up were earned runs.
Sunday: Rutgers 8, Purdue 2
Purdue committed four errors and John O’Reilly retired the first 19 batters he faced as the Boilers were never really in it today. The Scarlett Knights got three in the first, one in the third, and four in the fourth to take an 8-0 lead and chase Mike Kornacker from the game. The Purdue bullpen did not give up any runs, but Purdue only had three hits on the day. A two run double by McGowan in the 7th plated Purdue’s first two baserunners and that was it for the offense. Purdue is now a paltry 1-7 on Saturdays after being 7-2 on Fridays.
Overall the weekend was a blow to Purdue’s Big Ten Tournament hopes, but not a crippling one. Purdue must take advantage of its next two home conference series against Illinois and Northwestern to be in great shape. Win both of those and Purdue will have at least 10 conference wins.
Purdue is now 18-17 overall, 6-6 in the Big Ten, but has lost four of its last five. The Boilers sit in the last Big Ten Tournament spot in 8th place at 6-6, with Rutgers (2-4), Illinois (3-6), Northwestern (3-6), Ohio State (4-8), and Penn State (1-8) behind them.
This week Purdue plays Ball State at home on Tuesday before hosting Illinois on the weekend. That series is basically a must-win for Purdue.