Admittedly the competition has not been good, but when you do something a program has not done in more than a century, it is noteworthy. This weekend was another four-game neutral site series for Purdue baseball. Expected poor weather on Sunday meant two days of doubleheaders as the Boilers faced Princeton down in North Carolina. Just like last week, Purdue took all four games, moving to 8-0 on the season. It is officially the best start for Purdue baseball since it won the first 10 games in... 1909.
Now, let’s take this with an enormous grain of salt. South Dakota State is another northern team from a tiny conference and they are now 1-6 after losing 2 of 3 this weekend at Incarnate Word. Princeton is an Ivy league team that did not play at all last year and was 0-7 in the abbreviated 2020 season. Purdue hasn’t really played anyone yet, but it is still 8-0. When you do something that hasn’t been done in 113 years that is pretty cool.
Purdue 9, Princeton 3
Jackson Smeltz gave Purdue its best outing of the season from a starter to that point, striking out 11 in 5 1⁄3 innings as Purdue blew open a close game late. Mike Bolton Jr. scored on a first inning single from CJ Valdez, then he scored on a bases loaded hit by pitch with Jack Firestone up in the third to make it 2-0 Boilers. Princeton got a run across in the fifth, but a two run double from Valdez spurred on a five run seventh inning as Purdue broke it open.
Valdez drove in three runs on the day and Evan Albrecht had two RBIs on 7th and 8th inning hits. He would finish 3 for 4 for the game.
Purdue 8, Princeton 3
As good as Jackson Smeltz was in game 1 of the doubleheader, Wyatt Wendell was even better in his game 2 start. Wendell is the son of former major leaguer Turk Wendell, and he went 7 innings while giving up two runs on four hits to earn the game 2 win. He didn’t have the strikeout totals that Smeltz did, but after giving up a solo home run in the 4th to fall behind 2-1 he kept the door closed and let the offense work.
Jake Parr got Purdue on the board with a game-tying solo home run in the second. Albrecht and Bolton each drove in runs in the fourth, and Valdez, Cam Thompson, and Parr drove in runs in the fifth to make it 6-2. Curtis Washington and Valdez also drove in runs in the 6th and the bullpen took care of the rest.
Purdue 4, Princeton 3
It was walk-off time as Valdez came through again. His ninth inning double brought home Washington to give the Boilers a 4-3 win after Princeton scored twice in the top of the inning off of Eric Hildebrand to tie it at 3-3. Tory Wansing only gave up a run with six strikeouts over four innings in his start.
This was a much lower scoring affair, as Washington drove in a run with a fifth inning single and Purdue added two in the sixth on a sac fly from Pablo Lanzarote and a hit from Albrecht. All told, Purdue pitchers had 14 strikeouts as Wansing, Ricky Castro, Nolan Daniel, and Hildebrand did well on the mound.
Purdue 5, Princeton 4
It was walk-off time again as Thompson’s ninth inning single scored Washington and gave Purdue the four game sweep. His first inning double also scored two runs and Tory Viola also had a fourth inning homer. Purdue led 4-0 after four innings but the offense stalled. Princeton got one in the fifth, two in the 6th, and one in the 8th to tie things before Thompson’s walk-off.
CJ Backer made his Purdue debut with only one given up on five hits over five innings, but the bullpen prevented him from getting the win. Khal Stephen officially got the win after a scoreless ninth.
Through eight games Purdue’s offense has been on a tear. Albrecht is batting .462 on the season with a home run and 7 RBI. Curtis Washington Jr. is getting on base and causing a ton of havoc with 12 runs scored. Cam Thompson also has 13 RBI and Paul Toetz has homered twice. There is even some power in the lineup. Purdue has hit seven home runs so far as a team in eight games. Last year it has 22 in 42 games. It had just four in the 14 game 2020 season and had only 11 in the last full season in 2019 (54 games).
The “cause havoc” factor is still there too. Purdue has had 35 stolen base attempts so far and has stolen all 35. Washington has seven and both Bolton and Albrecht have six. Again, I know the competition is not the same, but this sounds like a very fun team to watch.