Coming into the weekend Purdue knew it had a critical Big Ten series on the road at Maryland. The Terrapins and Boilers were on the fringe of teams expected to make the Big Ten Tournament, so the series winner would have a major advantage in gaining at least two wins and the tiebreaker against the other.
The Boilers won all three games to move to 7-2 in conference road games and earned their second three-game Big Ten sweep on the road. Purdue now sits at 7-4 in the league at its halfway point of the conference schedule and three of its final four series will be at home against Rutgers, Northwestern, and Michigan. The only road series left is at Ohio State, who took 2 of 3 against No. 8 Indiana this weekend.
Friday: Purdue 7, Maryland 1
After getting knocked around by Minnesota last week Tanner Andrews had a bounceback against the Terps on Friday. He struck out nine and scatted 11 hits, but was tagged for only a single run in the sixth. All told, he went seven innings to earn his fourth win of the year.
Purdue was able to jump in front with four runs in the second. Evan Warden had an RBI double and Nick Dalesandro had a two-run double as well. Skyler Hunter drove in the fourth run with a single as Purdue scored four runs on four hits.
Leading 4-1 in the eighth, Ross Learnard came in and pitched a pair of scoreless innings to earn the save. Alec Olund had a three-run double in the top of the ninth for three big insurance runs. It was a huge hit for Olund who had just two RBIs on the season before driving in those three runs.
Saturday: Purdue 4, Maryland 3 (11 innings)
The Terrapins got two runs early off of Gareth Stroh in the first, but Purdue was able to get this win thanks to three solo home runs. Harry Shipley had his first home run of the season and just the second of his career in the third and Purdue tied it 2-2 in the fifth when Dalesandro drove in Warden on a groundout. Maryland took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the seventh on an infield single, but Jacson McGowen crushed a 2-2 pitch over the left field fence for a leadoff home run in the ninth. Two innings later McGowan did it again, hitting his second home run to give Purdue a 4-3 lead.
Another majestic moon shot for Jacson McGowan to left field. He has powered #Purdue to a 4-3 lead as Ross Learnard takes the mound for the bottom of the frame.— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) April 21, 2018
11 Homers for McGowan this year, 4 in Big Ten play. #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/sCu9nRBBGQ
Learnard worked a perfect 11th inning to get his second save of the weekend. Dalton Parker was the winning pitcher, picking up his first win of the season with a scoreless 9th and 10th inning. Parker, Learnard, and Trevor Cheaney combined to give up just one hit in the final 4 1/3 innings after Maryland took its 3-2 lead.
Sunday: Purdue 8, Maryland 6
For quite a while it looked as if Maryland was going to salvage the third and final game. A.J. Lee scored on a wild pitched in the third to make it 1-0, and then a dropped fly ball for what would have been the third out set the stage for a three-run home run from Zach Jancarski. The Terps led 4-0 after three, but Purdue got one back in the fourth on a solo home run from Ben Nisle and another in the 6th on an RBI single from McGowan.
After cutting the lead to 4-2 in the top of the 6th Maryland got the two back in the bottom of the inning on a two-run double from Nick Dunn. That’s when Purdue completely shifted momentum. Olund led off the seventh with a double and Warden followed with a walk. Charlie Nasuti then loaded the bases with no one out on his own walk before Harry Shipley drove in Olund with a fielder’s choice. A walk to Dalesandro re-loaded the bases and Skyler Hunter singled to center to drive in two runs. The throw home was so far off target that Dalesandro was able to score from first to tie it and Hunter went all the way to third.
Here's the wild sequence on Skyler Hunter's 2-run single that tied the game. After #Boilers took the lead, they hit into their 4th double play of the game to end the frame. But it was a 5-run rally in the 7th.#Purdue 7, Maryland 6 // Cam Williams takes the mound pic.twitter.com/rblb75rliX— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) April 22, 2018
Now completely frazzled, Hunter scored to make it 7-6 on a wild pitch and cap a five run inning. Purdue added an insurance run in the ninth thanks to a double from Hunter and RBI from Nisle. Once again, Learnard came in to close the game out. He quickly got the first two out before a single, a walk, and a wild pitch had the tying runs at first and third with two outs. Jancarski popped out to McGowan at first though to end the game.
Bo Hofstra earned the win out of the bullpen, giving up two runs in three innings of work on two hits. Cameron Williams and Cheaney both threw a scoreless inning after the five-run seventh, while Learnard earned his sixth save of the year and third of the weekend. McGowan was 6 of 12 for the weekend with a pair of home runs and 3 RBI.
The win today caps a 4-1 week for Purdue and moves the Boilers to 19-16 overall and 7-4 in the Big Ten. Here are the current Big Ten Standings, with the top 8 teams going to the Big Ten Tournament in Omaha in five weeks.
Big Ten Baseball Standings
Weather has played havoc with the schedule this spring as Purdue-Minnesota, Indiana-Iowa, Michigan-Maryland, Michigan State-Nebraska, and Nebraska-Iowa all had a game cancelled in their respective series. Iowa and Nebraska could possibly make up their game if it is needed, but seeing the rest made up is unlikely.
Purdue currently owns the tiebreakers over Maryland if needed and has a home series coming up this week against Rutgers. If Purdue can beat the Scarlet Knights and sweep lowly Northwestern in the next two weeks it should be safe for the Big Ten Tournament regardless of what happens the final two weekends against Ohio State and Michigan.
The Boilers also have a pair of midweek games at home this week. On Tuesday night Purdue hosts Chicago State in a game that it should win easily. Wednesday night is much tougher game as Indiana comes to Alexander Field for a game that will not count in the conference standings. That game will be televised nationally, however, on ESPNU at 6pm.