EVANSTON, Ill. - Purdue baseball scored five times in the first inning for the second day in a row and received 5 2/3 innings of shutout work from Calvin Gunter in a spot start, cruising to a 10-2 victory at Northwestern Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of a Big Ten Conference series.
The Boilermakers (27-13, 7-5 Big Ten) posted their first series victory in Evanston since 2001 and improved to 7-2 during their 10-game road stretch, which concludes Tuesday at Valparaiso.
Purdue also won its third consecutive Big Ten series, finishing the first half of conference play with a 7-5 record and in a three-way tie for first place despite playing three of the first four weekends on the road. The Boilermakers will be at home for three of the final four series of the season, beginning with a three-game set with rival Indiana.
Gunter (4-0) surrendered only three singles and did not issue a walk in his first Big Ten start of the season. The 5 2/3 innings pitched matched the longest outing of his Purdue career. He struck out four and induced a pair of ground ball double plays, including a 1-4-3 twin killing on a comebacker to end the fourth inning.
Eric Charles recorded three hits and scored four times, coming around after each of his first four plate appearances. Kevin Plawecki registered four hits for the second straight series finale. He was not retired on the day. Barrett Serrato was productive in each of his first four plate appearances and finished with three RBIs.
The two through seven segment of the Purdue lineup had at least one RBI and one run scored Sunday. For the series, 11 different Boilers tallied at least one RBI.
Purdue has scored nine or more runs in four of the last five games, racking up 52 runs in the process.
The Boilermakers capitalized on five Northwestern (13-23, 5-7 Big Ten) errors Sunday, scoring four unearned runs over the first two innings while jumping out to a 6-0 lead. Purdue scored five times in the first inning despite collecting only three hits. Seven consecutive hitters either reached base safely or drove in a run during the rally.
Charles ignited the first-inning rally with an opposite-field double down the right field line. He scored moments later on base hit from Cameron Perkins rocketed through the legs of Northwestern pitcher Dan Tyson (1-4) and up the middle. After Plawecki reached on an error, Serrato doubled off the warning track in right field. Ground balls to the left side by Stephen Talbott and Payton Bieker led to two more runs.
Serrato plated Charles with sacrifice flies in the second and sixth innings. Plawecki recorded a two-out RBI with a base hit in the fourth inning that also scored Charles.
Gunter gave up only one hit to the final 16 batters he faced. He retired seven consecutive hitters before giving way to the bullpen with two outs in the sixth. The two double play balls were both of the inning-ending variety and he also struck out Nick Linne looking with two aboard to end the bottom of the second.
Lance Breedlove gave up a double to the first man he faced but struck out NU cleanup hitter Jack Havey to end the sixth inning and worked a 1-2-3 frame in the seventh.
First pitch Tuesday at Valparaiso is set for 4 p.m. (EDT).