Late inning drama was the story of the Alamo Irish Classic in San Antonio this weekend for Purdue. The Boilers reacdhed the championship round with a pair of wins over St. Louis and Incarnate Word on Frdiay, the second of which came via walk-off in extra innings. On Saturday Purdue lost for the first time this season on a walk-off home run to Notre Dame.
That allowed the two in-state rivals to play a rematch today in the championship, and Purdue turned the tables. The Boilers scored 5 runs in the top of the 9th to stun the Irish 8-7 and take the tournament. It is the first in-season tournament championship for Purdue since winning the Auburn Tournament in March of 2012.
Purdue 5, St. Louis 2
Purdue has a 3-game series with the Billikens coming up in St. Louis on March 16-18, so this was a preview of coming attractions. The Boilers jumped ahead 4-0 before St. Louis got both of its runs in the bottom of the third. Skyler Hunter drove in a pair of runs with a single in the third and later drove in his third run in the 8th with a sacrifice fly. Gareth Stroh was solid, giving up only the two runs in 5 1⁄3 innings to earn his first win of the season. Bo Hofstra struck out four and retired all 11 batters he faced to earn his first career save.
Purdue 5, Incarnate Word 4 (10 innings)
It looked like Purdue was on its way to its first loss of the season as it trailed 4-0 after four innings. Ben Nisle drove in a run with a single in the fifth and Jacson McGowan had his 4th home run of the season, a two-run job in the sixth.
Down to its last out and no one on in the bottom of the ninth, Purdue scrapped together a tying run on consecutive doubles by Evan Kennedy and Evan Warden. Given new life Trevor Cheaney pitched a scoreless 10th and was rewarded with a win in the bottom of the inning when Nick Dalesandro drove in Hunter after Hunter led off the inning with a double.
Notre Dame 4, Purdue 2
Tanner Andrews threw seven solid innings, giving up only two runs and striking out 8, but it was only a no decision as Purdue and the Irish were tied 2-2 going into the ninth. McGowan and Dalesandro each drove in a first inning run, but from there the Irish handcuffed the Purdue offense.
Notre Dame earned the walk-off win when David LaManna hit a 2-run homer off of preseason All-American Ross Learnard in the bottom of the ninth. It was the first loss for Learnard as a Boilermaker, and after a 0.58 ERA last season where he gave up just 3 earned runs he was tagged for two on a single pitch.
Purdue 8, Notre Dame 7
Purdue stole this one Sunday afternoon. The Irish were firmly in control leading 7-3 entering the bottom of the ninth, but their bullpen imploded. Owen Jansen was hit by a pitch, Charlie Nasuti walked, and Warden singled to load the bases with no one out. After Harry Shipley struck out Hunter ripped a double down the right field line to drive in two runs. McGowan drove in the third run on a ground out for out No. 2, but Dalesandro and Braden Giroux each singled with two outs to give Purdue a shocking 8-7 lead.
You've read about it. Now you can see it for yourself...five in the top of the ninth to beat Notre Dame 8-7! #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/jv6FE8sFMs— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) February 26, 2018
Cameron Williams worked around a two-out walk, striking out Daniel Jung to finish the game. Dalesandro had his first home run of the season in the second inning. Ryan Beard struggled on the mound, giving up 3 runs in 2 2⁄3 and hitting three batters. Trent Johnson, Learnard, and Williams combined to hold the Irish scoreless in the final three innings and keep Purdue in it.
The Boilers are now off to an excellent 6-1 start to the season joining Indiana (6-1) and Iowa (5-1) as the teams atop the Big Ten early on. Purdue heads to DeLand, Florida this coming week where it will play Central Michigan (2-5-2), Virginia Tech (2-5), and host Stetson (6-1) in the Westin Lake Mary Stetson Invitational. Unlike the Notre Dame event this is only a 3-game round-robin tournament with no championship round.