It was a slow start to the season, but Purdue seems to finally be hitting its stride on the baseball diamond. Last weekend it split its four games of a hybrid series with Penn State and Michigan State at Michigan State, taking one from each. This weekend it had its most successful weekend of the year by far. The Boilers swept all four games in Champaign, beating Michigan State twice and Illinois twice to move to 10-15 on a five game winnings streak.
Purdue 2, Michigan State 1 (11 innings)
The closest game of the weekend saw Purdue’s ninth inning magic save the day again. Calvin Schapira gave up only one run on three hits through eight innings of work, but the offense stalled as the Boilers trailed 1-0 entering the bottom of the ninth. Zac Fascia led of the inning with a single and Jack Firestone came in to pinch run. Mason Gavre sacrificed him to second and Firestone went to third on a Mike Bolton single. A groundout by Evan Albrecht then tied the game.
It was Albrecht who drove in the winning run as well, as his sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eleventh scored Ben Nisle to give Purdue its third walk-off win of the season. While Schapira had an excellent outing, Jackson Smeltz earned his third win of the season in relief with a scoreless 11th.
Purdue 8, Michigan State 3
It was Trent Johnson’s turn for a quality outing, as he earned his second win of the year with two runs given up over seven innings. He left with a 4-1 lead as Purdue plated three in the third. Gavre had an RBI double, Jake Parr drove him home with a single, and Parr scored on a Ryan Howe triple.
That’s when things got a little nutty. Purdue gave up two in the ninth with no one out before Landon Weims came in. He got out of the jam without giving up a run, then Purdue got four insurance runs in the top of the ninth to make his save a lot easier. Ben Nisle’s two-run home run provided the big blow in the inning.
Purdue 6, Illinois 4
Purdue switched opponents for game 2 of its double header and got the same result. Nisle’s first inning at bat provided another two-run homer and the game was on in the top of the first. He later tied the game with a 7th inning sac fly, then it was Miles Simington who played the hero. His ninth inning two-run double with the bases loaded scored Bolton and Skyler Hunter to provide the difference.
Nolan Daniel got the win with three innings of relief, but Cory Brooks had a decent start with two runs in five innings. Avery Cook worked a perfect ninth for his second save of the season.
Purdue 20, Illinois 6
It is safe to say Purdue found its offense today. The 20 runs in today’s game was more than Purdue scored in each of the previous entire weekends of the year. Simington had a two-run home run in the first, Fascia had a three-run home run in the second, and freshman Jeremy Schork added a ninth inning grand slam as Purdue went nuts offensively. Purdue was up 8-0 after three innings and never looked back, even pouring on six in the ninth. The Boilers pounded out 16 hits and earned 12 walks.
Officially Ricky Castro earned his first win of the season, but Purdue has seven different pitchers throw with Jett Jackson going the longest with three innings in his start. It was a good game to give everyone a little work.
Obviously it was a great weekend for Purdue. they can now continue it with a more traditional three-game series at home this coming weekend against the same Illinois team it just beat. After a 3-11 start against the four best teams in the league (Nebraska, Michigan, Iowa, and Indiana) Purdue has bounced back to go a respectable 7-4. A top half of the league finish is now possible as a muddled middle is there for the taking.