Tanner Andrews was magnificent and Purdue is on the cusp of a huge series win.
The senior who was knocked around two years ago like so many other Boiler pitchers during the dismal 10-44 season made the final start of his career at Alexander Field tonight and was excellent for the Boilers. With 107 pitches he gave up no runs, struck out 5, and worked around 6 hits and two walks as Purdue earned a huge 3-0 series opening win over Michigan.
Tanner Andrews paints the inside corner for his 5th K & his last out at Alexander Field. What a final outing at home for the senior.— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 18, 2018
Ross Learnard takes over for his classmate. #Purdue up 3-0 on Michigan. #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/yUG8oKyGW7
Andrews left with a runner on for Michigan in the top of the 8th and Ross Learnard needed just one pitch to get out of the inning. Learnard induced a double play to end the inning, then worked around a single in the 9th to pick up his 13th save of the season. That ties Nick Wittgren’s single season school record establish in 2012, and he needs five more to tie Wittgren for the career mark.
Here's how it looked at Alexander as Ross Learnard closed out the 3-0 win for his 13th save, tying #Purdue's single-season record. Two nice plays by Evan Warden in the final frame.— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 18, 2018
BIG WIN!! pic.twitter.com/fMIeRZvCal
Purdue got on this one early with runs in each of the first two innings. Harry Shipley led off with a single and Nick Dalesandro reached on an error to put the first two runners on in the first. After a fielder’s choice eliminated Shipley at third and a Jacson McGowan strikeout Ben Nisle delivered a one out RBI single to make Michigan pay for the error.
The Boilers got another run in the second when they loaded the bases with no one out. Shipley drove in Alec Olund with a sacrifice fly, but Michigan got out of the inning with a pair of groundouts.
Michigan’s second and third errors in the 7th gave Purdue a valuable insurance run. Shipley delivered a one out single and went to second when it was misplayed in the outfield. Dalesandro then singled and Shipley scored on another error in the outfield. That was more than enough for Andrews.
Dalesandro was excellent defensively, throwing out a pair of runners attempting to steal. Andrews really only got into trouble in the 6th, which was the only inning where the Wolverines had more than one runner on base. A single and a walk gave them first and second with one out, but Andrews came back from a 3-0 count to get the next guy looking and ended the inning on a groundout. Michigan never got a runner past second in the entire game.
With a few games still going on in the league (Indiana trails Maryland 4-2, Iowa leads Penn State 1-0, and Illinois leads Nebraska 5-2 as of this writing) Purdue is in the clubhouse in the standings. Earlier today Minnesota beat Rutgers 4-0, and Purdue’s win gives them at least a share of hte regular season title. They would have to lose to Rutgers, then Michigan OR Purdue would have to win the final two games of our series for them to tie with anyone.
Big Ten Baseball Standings 5/17
|* - denotes team has clinched Big Ten Tournament berth|
In terms of the NCAA Tournament, Purdue’s RPI moves up to 43 with other games around the country still going on that could cause that to shift a little. We still need to win at least one more game this weekend to feel anywhere close to safe for an NCAA bid, and winning a game in Omaha next week would probably seal it. Purdue can now finish no worse than the 5 seed for next week’s tournament, and one more win this weekend clinches the No. 2 seed.
As a final note, Alexander Field had a crowd of more than 1,600 tonight, and tomorrow night should be even bigger. Let’s get this team through!