Purdue baseball is on the precipice of something it has not done in more than a century. On Tuesday night the boilers blew out an overmatched Fort Wayne team 27-3. On Wednesday late inning comeback gave them a 10-8 win over Ball State and a 13th consecutive victory.
The 13 straight wins ties a single-season school record for consecutive victories. The 2001 team won 13 straight from March 24 to April 14. I remember this team from my time on campus. it started that season with an upset of No. 1 Rice and likely was about one game short of making the NCAA Tournament. The 1993 team also won 13 straight form March 10-27.
With a win tomorrow night at Ohio State, Purdue will officially be on its longest winning streak in 109 years. The 1908 team won its final 6 games (with no NCAA Tournament back then, obviously), and the 1909 team started 10-0 for the program record 16-game winning streak.
I’ll have more on Ohio State tomorrow, but let’s look back at the midweek games.
Purdue 27, Fort Wayne 3
This one was pretty much a bloodbath from the beginning. Purdue put up nine runs in the second inning and was up 18-0 before Fort Wayne got three in the top of the sixth. All three runs came with two outs and after an error that would have ended the inning. Andrew Bohm struck out nine in 5 2/3, but since he left in the sixth it set up for an odd situation: MIke Kornacker earning his first save of the season.
How on earth does one get a save in a 24-run beatdown? Well, Kornacker entered the game and finished it while not being the pitcher of record. From there, he needed to meet just one of the following criteria:
He enters the game with a lead of no more than three runs and pitches for at least one inning; or
He enters the game, regardless of the score, with the potential tying run either on base, at bat, or on deck; or
He pitches for at least three innings.
Since Kornacker pitched 3 1⁄3 innings he gets a save. Even if he had given up 15 runs, he would have gotten the save.
At the plate Harry Shipley and Tyler Powers were each 3 for 5. Shipley also drove in four runs. Skyler Hunter also drove in 4 RBI, and pretty much if you were a Purdue player with a plate appearance you got on base at least once. Purdue had 18 hits and 15 walks.
Purdue 10, Ball State 8
Purdue trailed 8-5 entering the 9th inning and the losing streak was in jeopardy, but pulled it out with a five-run rally. Evan Warden led of with a single and Owen Jansen followed with a walk. That brought up Shipley, who hit a 3-2 pitch on a line drive to center field. the centerfielder dove for it and missed, allowing the ball to roll all the way to the wall. It ended up being a game-tying 3-run inside-the-park home run.
Sufficiently rattled, Ball State then gave up two more baserunners and a wild pitch. Ben Nisle singled home Hunter and Jacson McGowan for the go ahead runs with one out.
In the bottom of the inning Ross Learnard earned his 11th save of the season by striking out the side around a 1-out triple. Ryan beard got his fourth win with an inning of relief in the 8th. Shipley had 4 RBI yet again and has 8 this week after having just 9 in the previous 43 games.
Heading into the weekend Purdue’s RPI now sits at 59, but six of the final seven games are against top 50 opponents in Ohio State and Michigan. The 13-game winning streak has put Purdue in a position at least to make the NCAAs, but it likely needs to at least go 3-3 in the last six conference games to have a chance. The Buckeyes split a midweek home series with Campbell this weekend and Purdue won 2 of 3 in Columbus last season.