Last weekend was by far the best of the year for baseball. The Boilers won four games, two each against Michigan State and Illinois in Champaign. In the final game against the Illini Purdue scored a season best 20 runs. It looked as if the program had turned a corner and had some momentum.
Well, not anymore.
This weekend Illinois came to Alexander Field and swept the Boilers in all three games, with two as one-run losses. Even worst, Purdue was no hit for the first time in four years in the finale.
Illinois 6, Purdue 5
It was a common theme in this one. Purdue struggled offensively until the ninth inning when it was too late. The Illini built a 6-0 lead with a second inning home run, two runs in the fourth thanks to an error, two in the seventh, and one in the ninth. The bats suddenly came alive in the ninth though, a Purdue had a three home run inning to get back in it. Ben Nisle, Ryan Howe, and Kyle LaPlante all homered with Zac Fascia also providing an RBI double. All of the action came with one out, but Purdue couldn’t get that tying run on as Jack Firestone and Skyler Hunter both committed outs in the final two at bats.
Illinois 12, Purdue 4
Saturday was a precursor to Sunday’s game, as Purdue struggled at the plate and did not get its first hit until the bottom of the sixth and by then they were already down 5-0. The Boilers did manage to get back in it with three in the sixth, however. Howe had an RBI single and Jake Parr had a two-run single to get it to 5-3. Both teams got a run in the seventh, with Purdue’s coming on a Nisle single, but the bullpen imploded by giving up six in the top of the ninth.
Illinois 1, Purdue 0
Talk about a frustrating game. Cory Brooks had his best start of the season, giving up no runs on three hits, but a single, passed ball, infield single, and error gave the Illini the only run of the game off of Eric Hildebrand in the top of the ninth. This came after Michael Bolton Jr. was thrown out at home just barely in the bottom of the eighth on the extremely rare 2-3-1 double play. Bolton was the runner on third after he was hit by a pitch, sacrificed to second, and went to third on a wild pitch. Simington tried to advance to first on a dropped third strike and the Illini completed the strikeout with the throw to first, then threw out Bolton as he tried to steal home.
Officially, Riley Gowens (7 innings), Ryan O’Hara (1 inning) and Cole Kirschsieper (1 inning) combined for the no hitter for Illini, but it was far from a perfect game. Purdue was able to get nine baserunners thanks to walks, errors, and getting hit by a pitch, but they couldn’t push across a run with a hit. Purdue even had a pair of runners on with one out in the ninth, but finished with consecutive strikeouts.
It was the first time Purdue was no hit since May 10, 2017, a 4-2 loss to Butler in a midweek game. Purdue heads to Ohio State for three next weekend.