SAN ANTONIO - Purdue baseball sent 11 men to the plate in the ninth inning, scoring five times to rally for an 8-7 victory vs. No. 30 Notre Dame in the championship game of the Alamo Irish Classic.
The Boilermakers' final three games at the tournament this weekend were all decided in the ninth inning or later. Purdue (6-1) managed to win twice despite trailing with two outs in the ninth inning. The Boilermakers' 6-1 start is their best since the 2012 Big Ten championship team won 14 of its first 15 games.
Sunday's game featured a combined 17 pitchers, including 10 for Notre Dame (4-3). Only the starters worked more than two innings and even they combined for just six innings.
The big hits of the ninth inning were a two-run double by Skyler Hunter, a game-tying infield hit for Nick Dalesandro and another two-out single for Braden Giroux that plated Dalesandro as the go-ahead run. Dalesandro finished the day 3-for-4 with a solo home run, two RBI and three runs scored.
Native Texan Cameron Williams retired four of the five batters he faced to close out the victory. Those four outs came against the No. 2, 3, 4 and 6 hitters in the UND lineup. He kept the momentum on Purdue's side in the bottom of the ninth by retiring UND's Nick Podkul to begin the frame. Entering the bottom of the ninth, Podkul had reached base safely in six of his eight plate appearances against Purdue over the last two days.
-- Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) February 26, 2018
The five-run ninth was Purdue's largest last at-bat rally in a victory since scoring 10 times in the ninth inning of a May 2012 win at No. 14 UCLA.
Coincidentally, that 2012 victory was also the Boilermakers' last against a nationally ranked opponent. Purdue had lost 41 straight games vs. ranked teams since. Notre Dame was ranked 30th by Collegiate Baseball this week after winning two of three at LSU to begin the season.
Nine of the 11 men to bat for Purdue in the ninth put together a productive plate appearance. A hit by pitch and walk to freshmen Owen Jansen and Charlie Nasuti at the bottom of the lineup ignited the rally. Notre Dame issued 17 free passes (12 walks, 5 HBP) to Purdue over the two games this weekend.
Jacson McGowan and Hunter were both 5-for-16 while hitting safely in all four games of the tournament, extending their season-opening streaks to seven. The switch-hitting Hunter recorded hits from both sides of the plate Sunday.
Dalesandro finished the weekend a team-best 7-for-15 with three walks, four RBI and five runs scored. He delivered the walk-off single in the 10th inning Friday vs. Incarnate Word and the game-tying hit in the ninth Sunday. The junior has reached base safely in every game this year.
Bo Hofstra's streak of 18 consecutive batters retired to begin his college career ended when fellow freshman Ryan Cole connected for a two-run double to center field in the sixth inning. The hit broke a 3-3 tie.
Mike Kornacker, Trevor Cheaney, Ross Learnard and Hofstra all made their second relief appearances of the weekend Sunday. Kornacker retired 12 of the 14 batters he faced over 4 1/3 innings of scoreless two-hit relief in his two appearances. He stranded the go-ahead run at third base in the fourth inning Sunday after Purdue had tied the game in the top of the frame.
The Fighting Irish used four pitchers in the ninth inning. They moved first baseman Matt Vierling to the mound to begin the frame. That move led to the elimination of the designated hitter spot in the lineup. Purdue did not retire Notre Dame DH Alex Kerschner (2-for-2, 2 walks) on the day. He would have batted again with a man on first base and two outs in the ninth inning if not for the pitching change to begin the ninth.
The 5-run 9th Inning Rally in our memorable comeback win
Box Score: https://t.co/SM5UusJ2qY
💥 Jansen HBP
⚾️ Nasuti Walk
🚂 Warden Single
💪 Hunter 2-run Double
⚾️ McGowan RBI Ground Out
💯 Dalesandro Game-Tying Single
🎉 Giroux Go-Ahead Single
⚾️ Nisle Walk
💥 Fugitt HBP pic.twitter.com/ay9wa4OqAP
-- Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) February 25, 2018
Notre Dame got gloves on both the ninth-innings hits by Dalesandro and Giroux. Dalesandro came to the plate with two outs and Hunter representing the tying run at third base. He hit a line drive off new first baseman Daniel Jung's glove. Podkul threw the ball away while trying to retire Dalesandro at first base off the carom. The ball rolled into the dugout to advance Dalesandro into scoring position. Giroux hit a line drive off the glove of the shortstop. The ball caromed into short right center and Dalesandro was safe on a close play at the plate.
Hunter doubled into the right field corner while batting from the right side against UND lefty Cameron Brown. The big hit came with the bases loaded after Brown had struck out Harry Shipley for the first out of the frame.
Hunter's leadoff single from the left side of the plate in the fourth inning helped ignite a two-run rally that tied the game. He was able to take second on a fly ball to center field and later scored on Ben Nisle's sacrifice fly after UND Notre Dame had walked the bases loaded. Nick Evarts followed with a two-out RBI single to bring Purdue even at 3-3.
Ryan Beard labored through 2 2/3 innings as the Boilermakers' starter. Six of the first eight batters he faced reached base safely. But he limited the damage in the second inning by turning a line drive back to the mound into a 1-5 double play, doubling off the runner at third to end the frame.
Trent Johnson, Learnard and Williams (1-0) teamed up to hold UND without a hit against the final 11 batters to come to the plate over the final three innings.
The Boilermakers return to action Friday when they take on Central Michigan at the Lake Mary Stetson Invitational in DeLand, Florida. They'll also play Virginia Tech and Stetson next weekend in the Sunshine State. All three games are set for 1 p.m. ET.