At least extra time was kind to one Purdue athletic team this weekend. Purdue’s hitting and the cold weather were problems all weekend, but the baseball Boilers grabbed another important series win as they continue to turn the season around. Poor weather on Saturday moved that game to Sunday for an intended doubleheader. In a bizarre twist Sunday’s doubleheader was delayed five hours because of a rule that stated the “real feel” temperature must be 28 degrees or warmer to start the game. As a result, Purdue and Penn State were only able to get in one game today as the second one was cancelled.
Through all that, Purdue managed just three runs in two games, but it was enough to win both as the pitching staff gave up just one run in 19 innings.
Friday: Purdue 1, Penn State 0
Purdue got its only run in the fourth inning when Owen Jansen doubled to right field, driving home Zac Fascia. From there, it was all up to the pitching staff. Patrick J. Smith turned in one of the best starts of the season for a Purdue pitcher with seven shutout innings. He gave up only four hits against nine strikeouts. Trent Johnson then struck out two in the eighth and Bo Hofstra struck out two in the nineth to get his third save of the season.
Sunday: Purdue 2, Penn State 1 (10 innings)
Both teams got a run in the sixth and Purdue got a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th after managing just five hits. Hofstra earned the victory with two scoreless innings. Andrew Bohn had a quality start, giving up a run in 5 2/3 with six strikeouts, but it was Johnson that was dominant out of the bullpen. Six of the seven outs he got came via strikeout.
Fascia scored Purdue’s run in the sixth by earning a one-out walk then advancing to third on a bad pickoff throw. He then scored on a perfect squeeze bunt from Nick Evarts. The run in the 10th came thanks to a one out double from Jansen. Seth Gergely came on as a pinch runner and moved to third on a wild pitch before scoring on a popup by Cole McKenzie.
With the win Purdue improved to 10-16 on the season and the Boilers have now won six of their last seven. More importantly, they are now 4-1 in the Big Ten. That has us half a game behind Indiana and Minnesota, who are both 5-1 after this weekend’s series.
In the postseason picture Purdue’s RPI is at 137, but that is because we are well under .500 overall. If we stay on a hot streak there is hope to come around for a postseason berth. Purdue is 1-7 agaisnt teams in the top 50 of the RPI, but has a very nice win at No. 17 Texas. The next eight games are make or break for the season as Purdue hosts RPI No. 36 Indiana State on Wednesday. They then travel to RPI No. 46 Nebraska for three before going to RPI No. 35 Indiana next Wednesday, then hosting RPI No. 51 Iowa for three.