It is going to be a long day for Purdue baseball, but at least the first part is over. After yesterday’s results around the Big Ten Purdue needed at least one win today to stay alive for Big Ten Tournament consideration. Thanks to Ross Learnard, they have that win.
Purdue’s top reliever was excellent, retiring 9 of 10 hitters he faced in earning a three-inning save in relief of Tanner Andrews from last night. It is his 4th save of the season and he now has only given up 2 earned runs in 44 1/3 innings pitched. He also has a 6-0 record. Andrews earned his 8th win of the season after giving up only two runs in six innings. He only struck out one, but gave up only three hits.
Andrews escaped trouble in the second last night. Minnesota had runners at second and third with one out, but Nick Dalesandro made a ridiculous catch for the second out. Andrews then escaped the inning with his only strikeout.
Purdue’s Milo Beam was 3 for 4 with three singles and two runs scored. He generally annoyed the shit out of Minnesota with three perfectly placed bunts, reaching once on an error and twice on bunt singles. Overall Minnesota committed 4 errors and starter Lucas Gilbreath lost for only the second time this season thanks to four wild pitches. Purdue added three in the third, one in the 5th, and 1 in the 7th. Hayden Grant also scored a pair of runs.
The win is significant for Purdue for many reasons. First, at 28-24 Purdue cannot finish below .500 overall, marking the first time since 2012 it will not finish with a losing record. Second, it kept the Boilers alive for the Big Ten Tournament. Here are the standings as of right now, with everyone (except Maryland) having two games to play:
Michigan State 10-12
Ohio State 8-14
Penn State 4-18
It was a bad day for all the conference leaders yesterday. Nebraska, Minnesota, Michigan, and Indiana all dropped the opening games of their respective series. For Nebraska and Indiana it was really bad, as they lost to Penn State and Ohio State, respectively. Illinois, Rutgers, and Ohio State all saw their faint Big Ten Tournament hopes end, meaning only Purdue, Northwestern, and Michigan State are left to battle for the final two spots (Minnesota, Nebraska, Maryland, Michigan, Iowa, and Indiana have already clinched bids).
Northwestern is already leading Rutgers 2-0 in the 6th inning of game 2 of their series. They will also play a doubleheader today. Michigan State plays at Michigan at 6pm in the other game that is important to Purdue.
Based on the various tiebreakers, Purdue only needs ONE of the following to happen:
Purdue wins both games of the doubleheader today
This is the easiest scenario. If Purdue sweeps the Gophers it is in no matter what.
Purdue wins once and Michigan State loses once
This could have it carry over to tomorrow’s final Michigan State-Michigan game, but Purdue would not win a direct, two-team tiebreaker with the Spartans. If they go 2-1 vs. Michigan (and they won yesterday) and Purdue goes 1-2 vs. Minnesota (or 3-0 and 2-1) Purdue is in trouble. The only scenario where Purdue survives a tie with Michigan State is a three-way tie also with Northwestern.
Michigan State loses twice
It would be backing into the tournament somewhat, but if Michigan State loses today and tomorrow to Michigan Purdue is in no matter what.
Purdue, Northwestern, and Michigan State all tie at 11-13 or 12-12.
In this case the tiebreaker is record among the teams all three played. Purdue and Michigan State were 4-2 against Illinois and Iowa, while Northwestern was 3-3. That would put Purdue and Michigan State both in.
Purdue has a better weekend record than Northwestern
Purdue and Northwestern were tied coming into the weekend, so if Purdue goes 2-1 and Northwestern goes 1-2 we’re in.
Game 2 vs. Minnesota will start around 2:15.