For just the second time ever, Purdue baseball has an NCAA Tournament win. The Boilermakers took advantage of a wild North Carolina A&T pitching staff to turn a 3-2 deficit in the top of the fourth into a 14-4 win. It is Purdue’s first NCAA win since beating Valparaiso in the first game of the 2012 tournament and the 38th win of the season gives this group the second most wins in any single season in school history, trailing only the 45 wins by the 2012 team.
Purdue got a pair of runs in the first when Harry Shipley led off with a single and scored on a double from Skyler Hunter. Hunter would score on a single from Ben Nisle and Garth Stroh was able to take the mound with a 2-0 lead.
He struggled though. Stroh was tagged for five hits and gave up runs in each of the first two innings to tie it. After Dawnoven Smith led off the third with a triple Stroh was pulled. Smith scored on a first pitch wild pitch from Trent Johnson to give the Aggies and 3-2 lead.
Purdue recovered quickly, however. They added four runs in the fourth thanks to fives singles and a hit by pitch. Alec Olund and and Evan Warden started the inning with singles, then Olund was controversially called out at third on a sacrifice attempts by Tyler Powers. Shipley was then hit by a pitch and Nick Dalesandro tied it with an RBI single. Hunter gave Purdue the lead on a sac fly and both McGowan and Nisle followed with RBI singles to make it 6-3.
From there Dalton Parker turned in four innings of scoreless relief to earn his sixth win of the season and move to 6-0. He gave up three hits and struck out four. That’s good, because we needed someone to eat innings since we have to win twice tomorrow. It was the longest outing of Parker’s career, who is now 8-3 in his two seasons in West Lafayette.
(Ed. Note: Officially, Trent Johnson got the win since Parker entered in the bottom of the 4th after Purdue took a 6-3 lead. Johnson is 3-1 now and Parker is 5-0).
Purdue blew the game wide open in the sixth thanks to pretty much just standing there. The Boilers plated six runs on the benefit of only one hit. The Aggies walked the first three batters of the inning in Shipley, Dalesandro, and Hunter before McGowan drove in Shipley with a single. Nisle then hit a ball to short that was misplayed and allowed two runs to score. Evan Kennedy walked to reload the bases, then both Olund and Warden were hit by pitches in consecutive at bats to score two more. Hunter, in his second at bat of the inning, drove in the sixth run on a sacrifice fly.
Purdue added another run in the seventh on a double from Nisle and a run in the eighth on a dropped fly ball with two outs. That’s when the weather delayed kicked in. Purdue resumed the game at 5:15pm after roughly an hour and closed out the win. Mike Kornacker pitched the final 2 innings and gave up a meaningless run in the 9th.
Nisle had an outstanding day at the plate, going 4 for 5 with 4 RBI. McGowan got on track with a 3 for 5 day and 2 RBI.
Purdue advances to play the loser of tonight’s Houston-North Carolina game in another elimination game tomorrow. Tentatively, that game is scheduled for 1pm, but the weather tonight could play a factor. Because Purdue’s ending was delayed the Houston-North Carolina game will not start on time at 6pm. If they are unable to finish (or even start) tonight, that game will have to finish up before Purdue can play.
That would give Purdue an advantage in that the loser would be on their second game of the day and Purdue would be on its first. It would also likely move the championship round fully to Monday.
We can worry about that later, however. The point is that, for now, Purdue is still alive.