It certainly did not start well for Tanner Andrews today.
Purdue’s senior ace had a rough beginning. He needed 25 pitches and a strange ending to get through the top of the first inning down only 2-0. Ohio State got to him for two singles, a walk, and a two-run double from Tyler Cowles to take the early lead. It could have been more, as Dillon Dingler hit a single to shallow center that was fielded by second baseman Tyler Powers. Powers attempted to get him out at first, but the throw was well late. Jacson McGowan was able to relay the throw home to Nick Dalesandro, who tagged out Cowles at the plate as he tried to score from second.
That routine 4-3-2 putout settled Andrews immensely. He gave up only three hits the rest of the way and struck out seven to earn his seventh win of the season in a dominant complete game. He only needed 79 pitches over the final eight innings to do it, too.
Purdue got back into it with a pair of runs in the third. Evan Warden led off with a double and Powers followed with a single. Harry Shipley drove in Warden and advanced Powers to second with a groundout, then Dalesandro brought home Powers with a single up the middle that was misplayed in center field. Dalesandro went to third on the error, but was later out at home when Cowles threw him out on a fly ball ot left.
Purdue went in front 3-2 in the 5th thanks again to Shipley. With runners at second and third Shipley singled home Alec Olund up the middle. Two innings later Shipley provided the hit of the game. He laced a three-run double to right field that blew the game open and gave us an 8-2 lead.
That was more than enough for Andrews, who was magnificent. Powers was great in the nine spot by reaching bases three times and scoring twice. Shipley finished the day with 5 RBI. Olund and Warden also had RBI hits in the 7th before Shipley’s big hit.
The win give Purdue 35 wins on the season. It is just the 9th time Purdue has won 35 games in a single season, joining 1982, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1993, 2000, 2011, and 2012. Purdue has had only one season with more than 37 wins, and that was 2012, so we’re approaching really rareified territory here.
I do think this win may have clinched an NCAA Tournament berth for us as well. 35 wins has kind of been the magic number for Big Ten teams in recent years, and we’re not done yet. Next up is a winner’s bracket game with Michigan at 6pm ET tomorrow. Michigan beat Iowa 2-1 in 10 innings in today’s first game. Strangely, a Purdue loss might end up helping us. We’re currently 4-7 against top 50 RPI teams, but Michigan is sitting at 54. They are such a tight group that a win over Purdue would likely bring them into the top 50, and suddenly we’re 7-8 against top 50 teams instead of 4-7 due to last week’s sweep.
But it may not matter. I really think this win locked us into the field. Another win over Michigan would have us at 2-0 in the Big Ten Tournament and we would have Friday off. We would then play the remaining 1-loss team from the other half of the bracket at 2pm ET on Saturday. A loss to Michigan means we play the Ohio State-Iowa winner from tomorrow’s first game at 4:30pm ET on Friday.
After this win our RPI improved to 35, which is more than enough to get into the field. I don’t see it dropping too much even if we lose the next two games. I would say without about 90% certainty we will see Tanner Andrews take the hill next Friday in the NCAA Tournament somewhere.