WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Josh Estill and Kyle Wood both connected for a home run en route to posting season-high RBI totals and Purdue baseball scored 15 times in the second inning, blowing out Illinois-Chicago, 20-0, in the rubber game of the season series Wednesday evening at Alexander Field.
The Boilermakers (12-24) snapped a nine-game losing streak, their longest since opening the 2008 season 0-9, with their first shutout win since blanking Indiana 3-0 in the winner's bracket final of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. Purdue's two highest run totals this year have come against the Flames (19-18). March 9 in Chicago, the Boilers scored 17 times on a season-high 20 hits to snap a seven-game losing skid.
Gavin Downs (1-0) worked five scoreless innings in his first official collegiate start, earning his first win as a Boiler. Including the 4 2/3 innings he worked in the April 10 game against Ball State that was called due to rain in the top of the fifth, the redshirt-freshman has now surrendered just one unearned run in 14 innings pitched at Alexander Field this season.
Estill connected for the first home run to left field at Purdue's new ballpark. It was Purdue's second long ball of the 15-run second inning. Along with his first collegiate homer, the freshman also delivered a three-run double with the bases loaded in his second at-bat of the frame. His seven RBI matched his season total entering the night and represent the most by a Boiler since Neal Gorka had eight in an April 2006 win against Indiana.
Wood hit a three-run homer in the second inning, his third long ball of the season and first at Alexander Field. He had an RBI hit in each of his first three at-bats to finish the night with a career-high five RBI.
Kyle Bischoff came to the plate three times in the second inning. He ignited the rally with an infield single, walked and scored his second time up, and struck out to finally end the frame. Purdue had not scored 10-plus runs in an inning since the memorable 10-run ninth inning in the series finale at UCLA last year that helped the Boilers overcome a five-run deficit. Dating back to 2008, Purdue had posted a pair of 12-run frames - March 23, 2008 vs. Western Illinois and April 11, 2012 at Ball State. The final score Wednesday represented the Boilers' first 20-run output since winning game two at Murray State, 22-1, in March of last season.
Seven of the nine batters in the Purdue lineup reached base safely twice in the second inning. The Boilers also scored three times in the bottom of the first. Conner Hudnall and Wood both doubled off the wall in right field. Sean McHugh scored on a wild pitch and Estill's sac fly to left field plated Wood.
Downs induced a 5-4-3 double play ball to erase leadoff walk to begin the game and went on to pitch over the first batter of an inning reaching safely in four of the five frames he worked. In the top of the third after three consecutive singles loaded the bases, the redshirt-freshman got out of the jam thanks to a pair of strikeouts and a pop up vs. the UIC's 3-4-5 hitters. Downs finished with five strikeouts.
Four Purdue relievers each worked a scoreless inning to finish off the shutout. Brad Schreiber left the bases loaded in the top of the sixth. Kyle Johnson worked a 1-2-3 ninth.
The combined shutout for the pitching staff came on the heels of the Boilers allowing a double-figure run total in eight of the nine losses during the extending losing skid.
Hudnall reached base safely for the 17th consecutive game that he has started. Cody Strong drew a walk in the second inning to reach safely for a 15th consecutive game. McHugh was one of three Boilers with three hits, extending his reached-safely streak to 14 straight games.
The Boilermakers travel to East Lansing, Mich., this weekend for a three-game Big Ten series at Michigan State. Friday's series opener is set for 3 p.m. and will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.