While it wasn’t a sweep, Purdue had a productive weekend in the Windy City. The Boilers took a win on Friday night and Sunday’s rubber match over Northwestern to get a critical series win as the season winds down. The pair of victories greatly shores up their chances of reaching the Big Ten Tournament, as here are the standings with one weekend to go:
Illinois 13-7 (their final game this weekend with Nebraska is currently in a rain delay tied 4-4 in the ninth)
Penn State 11-10
Ohio State 8-14 (Done with Big Ten play)
Michigan State 7-14
Assuming Illinois finishes off Nebraska, Purdue is now in VERY good shape to finish in the top 8 and make the Big Ten Tournament. Even if first place Maryland sweeps Purdue in West Lafayette this coming weekend Nebraska (vs. Michigan State) or Northwestern (vs. Minnesota) would have to get a series win to pass Purdue on winning percentage. Minnesota, Michigan State, and Ohio State can’t catch the Boilers now, either. Even one win over the Terps all but locks up a Big Ten Tournament bid, and that doesn’t take into consideration what Michigan (vs. Rutgers) and Indiana (vs. Iowa) do this coming week. Should weather become a factor and cancel two of Michigan or Indiana’s games this coming weekend Purdue would have the tiebreaker over both.
Purdue 14, Northwestern 8
Purdue fell behind 2-0 after an inning, but got one back on a bases loaded walk by Mike Bolton Jr. in the top of the second. The Boilers then went in front for good with a big five run fourth inning. Curtis Washington, Troy Viola, and Paul Toetz each drove in runs in the inning. Northwestern made it 6-4 with a two run double in the fourth, but Cam Thompson got one back with a solo home run in the fifth.
Northwestern then got it to 7-5 with a run in the bottom of the sixth, but Purdue responded with a four run seventh and three run eighth to pull away. Troy Viola was clutch in both innings, as he had a two RBI double in the seventh and a two RBI single in the eighth. He finished the game going 3 for 6 with five RBI. Bolton was also on base regularly and scored three times. Washington and Toetz each finished with three hits.
Northwestern 11, Purdue 1
The less said about this one, the better. Wyatt Wendell was hit for seven runs in the first four innings and Purdue only scored in the seventh on an RBI groundout by Troy Viola. Northwestern pounded four home runs, two by Anthony Calarco as he drove in four runs.
Purdue 7, Northwestern 2
It was a quality start for Troy Wansing as he went 5 2/3 and did not give up a run on only three hits to move to 4-4 on the season. Landon Weins then came in and went the final 3 1/3, giving up two runs but striking out seven. That officially gave him his third save of the year.
Purdue moved in front early as CJ Valdez brought home a run on a bases loaded walk in the first and Steve Ramirez brought home a run with a second inning double. It would stay 2-0 until the sixth when Evan Albrecht doubled the lead with a two RBI double. Ramirez then brought home Albrecht with a single to make it 5-0. Mike Bolton would make it 6-0 in the eighth with a sac fly, but Northwestern got two in the bottom of the winning. A home run by Valdez in the ninth closed the scoring.
Purdue now moves to a solid 29-17 overall and is guaranteed of a winning season for the first time since 2018. Making the Big Ten Tournament opens the door for stealing the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament too. They will now face their toughest test of the season as Maryland, currently 17th in the coaches poll, comes to town. The Terrapins are tired with Rutgers atop the Big Ten and they are playing to be one of the 16 hosts in the NCAA Tournament, so they have a lot to play for this coming weekend.