The hottest baseball team in the Big Ten is Purdue. For the second time this year the Boilers have won 7 games in a row after this weekend’s home series against St. Louis. Purdue took both the Friday and Saturday games against the Billikens, while Sunday’s finally was a rainout date with no potential make up dates announced:
Today's series finale vs Saint Louis officially RAINED OUT. No makeup date. If you had tickets, they can be exchanged for GA tix to any game— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) April 30, 2017
Friday: Purdue 5, St. Louis 2
The Billikens sent Miller Hogan to the mound, and the sophomore entered as one of the best pitchers in the Big East with a 7-0 record and sub-2 ERA. Purdue’s Tanner Andrews did not give up a run in seven innings and the Purdue offense got him a run in the third and two in the sixth. Jacson McGowan had his 7th home run of the season with a two run shot to left field in the sixth.
Purdue added a pair of runs in the 8th on an RBI double by Mike Madej, who later scored on a passed ball. Alex King had a two-run homer for the Billikens in the ninth off of Dalton Parker, but that was all they could manage. Andrews moved to 7-2 on the season and Purdue moved to 9-2 in Friday games. Parker, since he entered in the 8th, earned his 6th save of the season.
Saturday: Purdue 4, St. Louis 3
Harry Shipley singled up the middle in the bottom of the ninth to score Milo Beam from third and earn the second walk-off win in 7 days for Purdue. Gareth Stroh had a solid outing of only two runs over 6 innings, but a 7th inning homer from Trent Leimkuehler off of Cameron Williams tied the game at 3-3. Beam had a 1 out single in the ninth and went to third after trying to steal second, but the throw went into center field.
All the rain over the weekend nearly cost Purdue this game as well. It was delayed for more than an hour to get the field ready, and overnight downpours likely ended any chance of playing today.
Purdue closed the month of April with 12 wins, which is more than it had all of last season. Purdue won series over Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois, and St. Louis in the month. At 25-18 Purdue is tied for the third most wins of any Big Ten team, and its RPI has risen to 95 out of 299.
In terms of the Big Ten standings, they are as follows with Michigan at Rutgers, Maryland at Indiana, and Nebraska at Ohio State still to play today:
Michigan State 7-8
Ohio State 5-9
Penn State 2-13
The top 8 teams in the standings will go tot he Big Ten Tournament, so Purdue is in great shape to make it for the first time since 2012 (when it also won the event). Illinois helped by beating Minnesota twice this weekend, setting up the three-way (and possibly four-way depending on what Michigan does today) tie for second. Purdue still has series left agaisnt Northwestern and Michigan at home, then at Minnesota.
Maryland has its Big Ten bye the last weekend of the season agaisnt High Point, so it is entirely possible they could be the winner in the clubehouse. After playing at Indiana today they close at Illinois and home agaisnt Northwestern. It is entirely possible for Purdue to catch them, but the Boilers will need help.
Of course, messing with the standings overall is the tie that Indiana and Nebraska had In college baseball Sunday games can end in a tie due to a travel curfew, meaning no inning can start after a certain time due to the visiting team’s travel arrangements. Rutgers and Minnesota also had their entire series cancelled due to travel issues. It might be made up, but it is unlikely (just like Purdue’s game today with St. Louis). That means Minnesota and Rutgers will only play 21 league games, not 24.
Among the contenders, here are the remaining conference series for each:
Maryland: at Illinois, Northwestern
Purdue: Northwestern, Michigan, at Minnesota
Minnesota: at Penn State, Purdue
Iowa: at Michigan State, Ohio State, at Illinois
Indiana: Penn State, at Ohio State
Nebraska: Rutgers, Michigan State, at Penn State
Michigan: Ohio State, at Purdue, at Michigan State
So Purdue has a chance at the Big Ten title if it stays hot. If it wins the Big Ten title it might, just might, be enough to consider an NCAA bid. The Boilers have no midweek games this week due to finals, but resume play on Friday at home against Northwestern.