WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Skyler Hunter doubled home the go-ahead run in the seventh inning and Evan Kennedy's pinch-hit homer the following frame accounted for the game-deciding tally as Purdue baseball defeated Oral Roberts 7-6 in the midweek finale for both teams Tuesday.
The Boilermakers (31-18) won their 10th consecutive home game, posting their fourth double-figure streak at home in a single season. It's the program's longest since winning 13 straight at Lambert Field in 1987.
Kennedy hit Purdue's first pinch-hit home run since Sean McHugh's dramatic game-tying blast in the ninth inning of the final game at Lambert Field, which was played six years ago to the day on May 15, 2012. Coincidentally, the Purdue-Indiana State game that day was also the last matchup of a pair of 30-wins team in West Lafayette until Tuesday. Oral Roberts (33-17) clinched another Summit League title this past weekend.
Kennedy and his classmates were honored before the game in a special Alexander Field commencement ceremony featuring university president Mitch Daniels. The Boilermakers' seven graduating seniors were presented their diplomas. After hitting his first collegiate home run, Kennedy joked afterwards that he never homered as a Purdue student but did so an alumnus.
Full highlights from #Purdue's 7-6 win Tuesday vs. Oral Roberts. The #Boilermakers have won 10 straight games at home going into a big weekend series vs. Michigan, which opens Thursday. #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/WLPEyekQ0a
-- Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 16, 2018
Nick Dalesandro and Hunter delivered consecutive two-out doubles, both to the opposite field, to give the Boilermakers the lead back in the bottom of the seventh. Both hits came against ORU's hard-throwing reliever Brady Womacks (3-1), who suffered his first loss of the season in 20 appearances. Dalesandro extended his hit streak at Alexander Field to 13 consecutive games. Hunter has reached base safely in 17 straight games overall.
Ross Learnard earned his 12th save of the season to move into a second-place tie in program history. But the Golden Eagles scored a pair of unearned runs against him after recording three straight two-out singles. The lefty struck out the first two batters of the inning on seven pitches.
Jacson McGowan homered to lead off the fourth inning, ending an 0-for-14 skid dating back to the May 9 win at Ball State. The opposite-field shot into the right field bullpen was his team-leading 12th home run, matching the most by a Boilermaker in the BBCOR bat era (2011-present). But it was McGowan's first long ball since his multi-homer heroics in the April 21 comeback win at Maryland.
Evan Warden's two-out, two-run single in the second inning opened the scoring. He also made a leaping catch at third base to rob a likely double from the second batter of the game.
Ben Nisle remained Purdue's hottest hitter with his third straight multi-hit game while extending his reached base safely streak to 11 straight games. Nick Evarts doubled off the wall in left center after Nisle's one-out single in the bottom of the second. Both players scored on Warden's hit.
Alec Olund made the top defensive play of the game, reaching over the side wall down the right field line to snare a foul pop up that would have been out of play if not for the catch.
.@EvanKennedy41 & Coach @Waz4412 discussed the pregame graduation ceremony & the 7-6 win vs. Oral Roberts. Kennedy's pinch-hit homer in the 8th inning proved to be the defining swing of the game. #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/9AexXolYLJ
-- Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 16, 2018
Andrew Bohm retired eight of the nine batters his first time through the ORU lineup, striking out three straight at one point. He speared a sharp comebacker with two aboard and two outs in the third inning, preventing a likely RBI single.
Bo Hofstra retired both batters he faced after replacing Bohm in the fifth inning. He used a high fastball to strikeout ORU cleanup hitter Spencer Henson, who had hits in three of his other at-bats on the night.
Dalton Parker (4-0) and Trevor Cheaney worked 1-2-3 innings in the seventh and eighth. They teamed up with Learnard to retire nine consecutive batters on Purdue's fourth trip through the Oral Roberts lineup. The Golden Eagles pulled even at 4-4 on a dropped pop up by McGowan with two outs in the top of the sixth.
Harry Shipley reached base safely to begin the first and fifth innings via a hit by a pitch and walk. He extended his on-base streak at Alexander Field to 19 consecutive games dating back to the end of last season.
The Boilermakers host Michigan this weekend for the final series of the regular season. Both teams still have a chance at winning the Big Ten title but are in need of some help from Rutgers against league-leading Minnesota. The winner of the Purdue-Michigan series is guaranteed of no worse than second place in the final Big Ten standings. The Thursday-Friday-Saturday series opens Thursday with a 6 p.m. ET first pitch.
In the dugout at Alexander for the "last commencement", our baseball seniors who missed theirs for weekend games. After derobing, they delivered a one-run win over a tough Oral Roberts team pic.twitter.com/u99DMc2D2x
-- Mitch Daniels (@purduemitch) May 16, 2018