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2018 Big Ten Baseball Tournament: Purdue 5, Michigan 4

Purdue earns Friday off by beating Michigan for the 4th time in 8 days.

Evan Warden
Courtesy Purdue baseball

This was a wild, wild game.

Purdue led 3-0 in the 6th and Gareth Stroh was cruising, but a nutty play kept the inning alive and allowed the Wolverines to tie it. They chased Stroh with a walk and two singles, and Bo Hofstra came on with two outs in the top of the 6th. He then struck out Jordan Nwogu, but catcher Nick Dalesandro failed to catch the third strike and it went to the backstop. As a result, everyone was safe and a run scored. On the next pitch Brock Keener singled home two runs to tie it 3-3.

Purdue went back in front in the bottom of the inning when Skyler Hunter led off with a double and scored on a Jacson McGowan single. Michigan tied it again at 4-4 with a single, wild pitch, sacrifice, and RBI groundout in the 8th, so we headed to the ninth.

Now it was Purdue’s turn to benefit from nuttiness. Mile Beam earned a 1-out walk, and the catcher lost the ball on a passed ball on ball four. Beam hustled to first and took second as the catcher struggled to find the ball. Once he got to second, he realized absolutely no one was covering third, so he hustled down there for the extremely rare 3-base walk.

Michigan intentially walked Charlie Nasuti and Alec Olund to load the bases with one out and set up the force anywhere, but Evan Warden smacked a 3-1 pitch up the middle for an RBI single that scored Beam.

Stroh was excellent on the night until the 6th, but he did not give up an earned run in 5 23 with 5 strikeouts against only 4 hits. The mistake by Dalesandro cost him the win though. Dalton Parker officially earned his 5th win on the season by throwing a scoreless 9th inning. Evan Kennedy provided a big RBI triple in the fourth and scored on a groundout by Olund.

Purdue reaches 36 wins for only the 7th time in program history, joining 1982, 1986, 1987, 1993, 2011, and 2012. Only the 1986, 2011, and 2012 teams won as many as 37, with the 2012 team being the lone one in school history that won 38 or more (it won 45). It is also just one more quality win to solidify our now likely appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

When it comes to the Big Ten Tournament, Purdue earns Friday off due to its 2-0 start. Purdue will play at 2pm ET on Saturday against the winner between Indiana and tonight’s Illinois-Minnesota loser. Illinois-Minnesota is the late game tonight, and the loser of that one has to play Indiana tomorrow at 8:30pm ET.

Since Purdue is 2-0 and will play a team with a loss on Saturday, they only need to win once Saturday in order to advance to Sunday’s championship. Their opponent would have to win twice, so if Purdue loses game 1 on Saturday it would turn around and have an immediate rematch.

Purdue’s RPI jumped all the way to 28 with the win, so not only have we probably earned an at large berth to the NCAA Tournament, we might even be a 2 seed in a regional now.