April 8, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Cameron Perkins and Andrew Dixon both recorded three hits while accounting for three runs apiece, backing up a quality start from freshman Connor Podkul and leading No. 19 Purdue baseball to an 8-4 victory at Northwestern Sunday afternoon to complete a series sweep.
The Boilermakers (24-5, 7-2 Big Ten) took a two-game lead in the Big Ten Conference standings by finishing off their first conference sweep on the road since 2001. Purdue has won eight of its last nine games but finally completed a Big Ten sweep after losing the series finale the first two weekends of conference play.
Podkul worked six innings of three-run ball in his first Big Ten start, striking out a season-high six and earning his first collegiate win. The right-hander pitched four consecutive scoreless frames after Northwestern took its first lead of the series with back-to-back two-out hits in the first inning. He became the first freshman to start a Big Ten game for Purdue since 2008.
The Boilermakers scored four times in the fourth inning to take the lead for good. The bottom of the lineup ignited the rally with three straight hits. Perkins' RBI single, his 200th career hit, capped the rally. Stephen Talbott delivered an RBI triple in the frame for Purdue's only extra-base hit of the day.
Northwestern (10-18, 3-6 Big Ten) scored twice against Podkul in the sixth inning to cut the Boilers' lead to 6-3. But Perkins delivered a two-run single in the top of the seventh to push the lead back to five runs after NU had intentionally walked Eric Charles to face Perkins with the bases loaded.
Dixon reached base in all five of his plate appearances, scoring runs in the second, fourth and seventh innings. He scored Purdue's first run of the game in the second inning after a pair of errors extended the frame. Spillner made the Wildcats pay for the errors with a two-out single, registering his 100th career RBI.
Eight of the nine Boilers in the starting lineup had at least one hit; the bottom third of the order - David Miller, Dixon and Talbott - scored six of Purdue's eight runs. Podkul struck out the side in the second inning and fanned a pair in his 1-2-3 fourth inning.
Back-to-back singles by Miller and Dixon ignited the four-run fourth-inning rally. Miller was able to score on Dixon's hit after the NU right fielder let the ball get past him. Talbott followed with a line drive into right center that rolled to the wall for an RBI triple. Talbott scored on a ground out to shortstop off the bat of Spillner. Charles restarted the rally with a two-out single, stealing second base and scoring on Perkins' first hit of the day. All five of the Boilers' hits in the inning were into right or right-center field as they scored four or more runs in an inning for the 14th time this year.
Purdue posted its first Big Ten sweep since bringing out the brooms against Indiana at Lambert Field during the final weekend of April last season. The Boilermakers posted their first sweep of Northwestern since winning all four games of a weekend series in April 2001. It was during a 13-game win streak that season that Purdue swept Big Ten road series at Michigan State and Northwestern.
Purdue returns to action Wednesday for a midweek game at Ball State. First pitch in Muncie is slated for 4 p.m.