April 24, 2012
NORMAL, Ill. -- Thanks to a two-run homer from Kevin Plawecki and some quality pitching, No. 13 Purdue baseball found a way to win in a game in which it committed three errors and grounded into five double plays, holding on to defeat Illinois State, 3-2, Tuesday afternoon.
The Boilermakers (32-6) won for the 12th time in their last 13 games and now have the best winning percentage (.842) in the nation. It was Purdue's 14th consecutive win in true midweek action dating back to March 2011. The road team has won six consecutive games in the Purdue-Illinois State midweek series dating back to 2009.
Three different Boiler relief pitchers recorded an out in the ninth inning. With the potential tying run on second base, Nick Wittgren struck out ISU No. 3 hitter Kevin Tokarski on a check swing to close out the win. He recorded his ninth save of the season and 21st career. Mike Sudbury and Jack DeAno also recorded an out in the ninth.
Plawecki connected for his fourth home run of the season and 14th career with Cameron Perkins aboard in the fourth inning. He launched a pitch over the wall in left field for his first long ball since March 10. The Boilermakers have hit five home runs in their last four games after recording only four in their first 17 games after returning from the spring break trip.
Purdue starter Robert Ramer surrendered just an unearned run over five innings of six-hit ball. He did not issue a walk for the fifth time in his six starts this year. Ramer (5-0) improved his career record to 12-0 and the Boilers are now 14-1 in games the junior has started.
Ramer successfully limited the damage in the second inning. The Redbirds loaded the bases with no outs but only scored once in the frame, on a sacrifice fly to left field that accounted for the first out. After a bunt single loaded the bases again, Ramer made a good play on a slow comebacker off the bat of leadoff man Chad Hinshaw. Ramer pounced on the ball and flipped it to Sean McHugh at the plate to cut down the lead runner. He then got ISU's leading hitter, Ty Wiesemeyer, to fly out to center to end the inning.
Sudbury also recorded a key out against Wiesemeyer. The Purdue pitcher entered the game with one out and Hinshaw at first base to setup a lefty-lefty matchup with Wiesemeyer. Sudbury's first delivery went to the backstop for a wild pitch. WIesemeyer hit the next pitch well into right field but the line drive hung up and Barrett Serrato made the catch for the second out of the inning.
Purdue hit into double plays in each of the first four innings, including those of the inning-ending variety in the first three frames. The Boilers' leadoff man reached base safely three times in the first four frames, but that runner was erased by a double play twice. Plawecki was hit by a pitch to open the second inning and scored on a base hit from McHugh. Perkins doubled in front of Plawecki's homer in the fourth.
Illinois State starter Brad Sorkin (2-3) induced all five ground ball double plays, recording 18 of his 23 outs on ground balls. He retired 11 of the 13 batters he faced after giving up the home run to Plawecki.
Calvin Gunter took over for Ramer on the mound to begin the sixth inning. He retired six of the first seven batters he faced. But a leadoff single led to a run in the bottom of the eighth, scoring on a two-out base hit from Matt Mirabal.
DeAno took the mound to begin the ninth inning and retired an ISU pinch hitter for the first out. He had two strikes on Hinshaw when he hit the ISU leadoff man with a pitch.
Purdue improved to 5-1 in one-run games and 9-2 in games decided by two runs or less. However, the Boilers had not played in a one-run game since defeating Louisville in walk-off fashion in the March 27 home opener at Lambert Field.
Purdue returns to action Wednesday when it hosts Ball State at 4 p.m.