Purdue’s momentum from a 18-1 start to the season is now gone. It was a very rough week for the Boilers. On Tuesday the bullpen blew a 9-0 lead through six innings in a 10-9 loss at home to Illinois-Chicago. Wednesday’s game with Indiana State was rained out, while this weekend’s road conference series saw more bullpen disasters as the Illini swept Purdue, making it an 0-4 week.
Illinois 8, Purdue 1
Contrary to the final score, this was a pitcher’s duel for much of the night. Illinois got a fourth inning run and starting pitcher Cole Kirschsieper nearly made it stand up on its own. He pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out nine while giving up only three hits. Purdue finally got a run in the eighth to tie it thanks to a triple by Michael Bolton Jr. and a sac fly from Curtis Washington.
Unfortunately, that only made Illinois mad. The Illini exploded for seven runs in the bottom of the inning off of Landon Weins and Nolan Daniel. A two-run homer and a three-run homer were the big blows in the inning.
Illinois 11, Purdue 10
This was a frustrating one, as every time Purdue would make some headway the Illini would answer. Cam Thompson tied it at 1-1 with a second inning home run for Purdue, but the Illini got four runs in the third to push the lead to 5-1. Jake Jarvis got two back in the fourth for Purdue with a two-run double, but Illinois got two in the bottom of the inning and one in the fifth to pull in front 8-3.
Purdue pulled close in the seventh with four runs, three of them coming on a home run from Jarvis. CJ Valdez also had an RBI double in the inning and Purdue was back in business down only 8-7, but Illinois got three back in the bottom of the inning. Purdue got those three back in the top of the eighth when Thompson was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, then Paul Toetz and Evan Albrecht each drove in runs. Purdue had the bases loaded for Pablo Lanzarote, but he struck out with Purdue trailing 11-10. Purdue put two runners on in the ninth, but could not get the tying run across.
Illinois 11, Purdue 8
Another day, another big inning given up by the bullpen. Purdue led 5-3 through five innings, but gave up seven in the sixth and another in the seventh to fall behind big again. Purdue would get three runs in the ninth, but it was not enough to avoid the sweep. Bolton and Thompson each had home runs on the day and Purdue did get the tying run to the plate in the ninth, but could not complete the comeback. Toetz and Bolton each drove in a pair of runs, too.
Needless to say it was a frustrating week for Purdue. The Boilers were in two of the six college baseball polls and on the fringe of the other four, but after an 0-4 week they will likely slide out. The bullpen concerns are troubling as they could not get the outs they needed late. Evan Albrecht stayed hot at the plate by going 5 for 9 on the weekend. He is now batting a blistering .427 on the year.
The Boilers need a get right week if they are going to continue heading towards the NCAA Tournament, and they have five games in six days, all at home this week. Tuesday night Purdue hosts Northern Illinois (5-20) in basically a must-win game. Indiana State (15-8) comes to town on Wednesday before a huge weekend series against Indiana (11-15) who is struggling. Indiana State is the only team Purdue plays in the next 11 games that has a winning record, so the Boilers have a great chance to turn things back around.