April 13, 2012
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Joe Haase pitched 7 2/3 shutout innings for his fifth consecutive quality start and No. 18 Purdue baseball recorded some timely hits in the first and eighth innings, winning a series-opening pitcher's duel with Illinois, 3-0, Friday afternoon at Lambert Field.
The Boilermakers (26-5, 8-2 Big Ten) posted their sixth straight win and 10th in their last 11 games. It was Purdue's fourth shutout win of the season and third in the last eight games. Head coach Doug Schreiber recorded his 406th career win, moving within one of Dave Alexander's program record.
Haase (6-0) won his fifth straight start and the Boilers improved to 9-0 when he's on the mound this season. The senior has now worked 16 2/3 scoreless innings over his last two starts, following up his two-hit shutout of Northwestern last Friday with another gem. He surrendered only five hits and did not issue a walk, posting four 1-2-3 innings his first two times through the Illinois (18-14, 3-4 Big Ten) lineup.
Purdue led the entire game thanks to an RBI double from Cameron Perkins in the first inning. He plated Tyler Spillner after the leadoff man opened the game with a base hit up the middle and took second on a sacrifice bunt by Eric Charles. Perkins hit safely and drove in a run for a sixth straight game.
Illinois starter Kevin Johnson (5-3) otherwise matched Haase, keeping it a 1-0 game until the bottom of the eighth when the Boilers tacked on a pair of insurance with two outs. Johnson's complete-game effort marked the third quality start in as many years for the right-hander against Purdue. But he has been afforded only one run of support by the Illini offense the last two years.
David Miller led off the eighth inning with a double down the right field line. After Miller took third on a two-strike sac bunt by Andrew Dixon, Spillner delivered the clutch hit to drive in the two-out insurance run. Eric Charles followed with a base hit through the left side and Spillner was safe at the plate when Illinois catcher Kelly Norris-Jones could not handle the throw.
Illinois opted not to bunt in consecutive innings late in the game after having a runner at second base with no outs. Haase hit cleanup hitter Brandon Hohl in the back with a pitch to begin the top of the seventh and Jordan Parr followed with a single into right field. Davis Hendrickson initially showed bunt but with first baseman Angelo Cianfrocco aggressively moving in, Hendrickson pulled the bat back and popped up to Charles at second base. Haase struck out Bill Charvat looking and a ground ball to Miller at shortstop led to an inning-ending force out at second base.
In the top of the eighth, Reid Roper led off with a double into right center for his second hit of the day. Again Illinois chose not to bunt and Thomas Lindauer flew out to right field on the first pitch. It was not deep enough to allow Roper to advance. Haase retired Willie Argo on a ground ball to shortstop and with a left-handed hitter due up, gave way to Blake Mascarello out of the bullpen. Mascarello jumped ahead 0-and-2 on Justin Parr and retired the No. 3 hitter on a ground ball to second base to end the threat.
Nick Wittgren issued a leadoff walk in the ninth but closed out the game quickly, inducing a game-ending 6-4-3 ground ball double play off the bat of Hendrickson. It was the closer's sixth save of the season and 18th career.
Illinois turned a pair of double plays behind Johnson, eliminating a leadoff single from Stephen Talbott in the third inning and finishing off the following frame with a twin killing as well. Johnson had retired 10 of 11 hitters when Miller doubled to open the bottom of the eighth.
The Purdue defense played well as a unit, continuing a recent trend that that has seen it commit only three errors during its current six-game win streak. Haase recorded 13 of his 23 outs on fly balls Friday.
The Boilermakers' pitching staff has surrendered only eight runs during the six-game win streak.
The series continues Saturday at 2 p.m.