With expectations high entering the 2001 season, the Purdue baseball team wasted little time reaching those expectations. In their season-opener, the Boilermakers dethroned No. 1-ranked Rice, 5-2, much in part to a masterpiece pitching performance by Ben Quick
The Boilermakers took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the second inning as Kris Luce drove in Nick McIntyre. McIntyre had walked to get on base, then advanced to second on a balk.
Rice jumped to a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning, as Matt Fox knocked in a two-run home run, giving Rice its first and only lead of the night.
The Boilermakers came right back, scoring four unanswered runs in the bottom half of the fifth inning. They sent nine batters to the plate, and knocked out starting pitcher Jonathon Gonzalez, after he had faced five batters. Brad Kriner led off the inning with by reaching first base on an error. Nick Treadway then came through with a base hit, which moved Kriner over to second. Doug Schreiber inserted veteran John Badylak into the lineup, pinch-hitting for designated hitter Simon Klink, and was walked. With the bases loaded, Mitch Koester's bunt turned into a single, advancing Badylak and Treadway, scoring Kriner. The bases remained loaded. Mike Duursma stepped to the plate and drove in Treadway, giving the Boilers the go-ahead lead at 3-2. Rice pitcher Jonathon Gonzalez was replaced by Steven Herce, and the Boilermakers tacked on two more runs to hold a commanding 5-2 lead entering the sixth inning, which they held for the remainder of the game. Nate Sickler was hit by a pitch, scoring Badylak and Nick McIntyre reached base on a fielder's choice, scoring Koester.
Ben Quick was spectacular in his season debut. The senior pitcher tossed a complete game, striking out nine batters, yielding six hits and just two earned runs. He was very consistent with his pitches in the strike zone, and puzzled Rice batters with the variety of his pitching speeds.
"I can't describe the job Ben Quick did tonight," head coach Doug Schreiber said after the game. "It was an incredible performance. He really stayed within himself, and most importantly believed in himself all night."
In addition to Quick's pitching performance, Schreiber praised the team in general. Right fielder Michael Correll went down with an injured hand in pre-game warmups, which put Nick Treadway into the starting lineup at the last minute. The Boilermakers also started two freshmen, Simon Klink as designated hitter and Mitch Koester at third base.
"You have to give our whole team credit," Schreiber added. "Plus, this was our first time playing outdoors. We've been practicing indoors, so this was our first playing time outdoors since the Big Ten Championships last year."
He was also impressed with the fact his team played solid defensively, committing no errors.
"We made no mistakes. We always say if we can come into a game and make 10 great plays, it's going to give us a 95% chance of winning. That was certainly the case tonight."
The Boilermakers continue their weekend series with game tomorrow against Central Florida. First pitch will be at 5:30 p.m. EST.