April 29, 2005
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue Nine used a stellar performance on the mound and a moster home run to take game one of a four-game Big Ten series against the Minnesota Golden Gophers at Lambert Field, 5-2.
Senior Scott Byrnes improved to 4-3 on the season, 3-0 in Big Ten action, with eight innings of work on the mound. Byrnes yielded only four hits to Minnesota, which entered the game hitting a league-leading .330 as a team in conference games. The Purdue right-hander fanned four batters.
With the scored tied 2-2 in the sixth, junior Neal Gorka put a charge into an offering by Minnesota starter Matt Loberg (5-4) that sailed high over the left field wall for a game-winning two-run home run. The blast was the fifth of the year for the Boilermaker right fielder, tops on the team.
Purdue improved to 13-22 on the season and 6-7 in Big Ten action. Minnesota slipped to 22-17 overall and 12-5 in conference play. In the game, Purdue outhit the Gophers 11-5. Eight of the starting nine Boilermaker batters collected a hit in the contest against Loberg, a two-time Big Ten Pitcher of the Week in 2005.
The Gophers opened the scoring with a blast to right-center by catcher Jake Elder, his fourth homer of the season, in the second inning.
Purdue answered the call in the fourth, scoring twice. Back-to-back singles by junior John Hunter and sophomore Spencer Ingaldson set up a sacrifice bunt by Gorka, giving the Boilermakers runners on second and third. Sophomore Eric Osborn lifted a flyball into center to drive home Hunter with the tying run, and Ingaldson came around to score on a single up the middle by senior Andy Dahl.
An RBI single in the sixth my Minnesota's Andy Hunter tied the score, setting up Gorka's roundtripper.
Once again, Hunter led off the inning with a base hit and then moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Ingaldson. The first pitch to Gorka was hung belt-high and was a no-doubter once the ball left the bat.
Leading 4-2, Purdue tacked on an insurance run in the seventh thanks to two Gopher errors. The Boilermakers loaded the bases with nobody out, chasing Loberg from the hill in favor of Andy Peters. Peters recorded two outs and seemed to be out of the jame when Hunter hit a grounder at third, but UM third baseman David Hrncirik booted the ball, allowing Hilligoss to score from third.
Junior closer Chris Toneguzzi pitched the final frame for his third save of the season, striking out one and allowing one hit in his stint on the hill.
Hilligoss, Hunter and Dahl each picked up two hits on the afternoon to lead the Purdue offense.
Purdue and Minnesota return to Lambert Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. for a Big Ten doubleheader. Both games will be broadcast on AM 1410 WLAS in the Lafayette area, with Kyle Charters and Ben Fritz on the microphone.