WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue baseball scored five runs in an inning for the second day in a row, overcoming a two-run deficit entering the bottom of the sixth on the way to defeating Iowa, 6-2, Friday afternoon at Lambert Field to clinch a series victory over the visiting Hawkeyes.
The Boilermakers (35-18, 13-10 Big Ten) improved to 5-2 on their eight-game homestand to close the regular season and are now 13-4 overall at Lambert this spring. The victory coupled with Penn State's loss at Michigan Friday evening clinched a program-high fourth consecutive Big Ten Tournament berth for Purdue.
The first pitch of Saturday's regular-season finale has been moved up to 1 p.m. Seniors David Blount, Payton Bieker and Matt Morgan will be honored before the game for their contribution to Boilermaker baseball. Although Purdue will move into its new stadium next year, Saturday's game is not expected to be the final contest played at Lambert Field.
Tyler Spillner delivered the big hit in the five-run sixth inning, driving in a pair with a two-out single up the middle. Eric Charles scored the tying run and Kevin Plawecki the go-ahead tally. Earlier in the inning, Plawecki had also singled with two outs to knock in the Boilers' first run of the day.
With 35 victories, Purdue has matched the high-water mark during head coach Doug Schreiber's 13-year tenure. The Boilermakers also won 35 games in 2000. The program record for wins is 37, established by the 1986 team.
Sean Collins (2-3) earned the victory in relief after inducing a 6-3 double play ball to end the top of the sixth inning with runners on first and second base. Starter Calvin Gunter struck out a career-high seven over 5 1/3 innings and Nick Wittgren fanned five of the seven batters he faced while closing out the game. Including two more strikeouts from Lance Breedlove in his inning of relief and the Purdue pitchers tied a season-high with 14 Ks. The Boilermakers have tallied 27 strikeouts of Iowa hitters in the first two games of the series.
It was a game that mirrored Thursday's series opener. Iowa again had a nasty lefty on the mound that shutdown the Purdue offense through the first half of the game. As was the case in Thursday's five-run eighth inning, a pair of hit batters helped ignite the Boilers' big rally. David Miller and Charles were hit by pitches from Matt Dermody (4-6) in back-to-back plate appearances, giving Purdue its first two base runners of the inning.
Following Plawecki's opposite-field single plated Miller, Barrett Serrato worked the count full and drew a walk. Spillner followed with a clean single up the middle, giving the Boilers the lead for good. Moments later Payton Bieker padded the lead with another run-scoring base hit. Spillner was also able to score on the play after the ball went through the legs of Iowa left fielder Taylor Zeutenhorst and rolled to the wall.
Eric Charles extended his career-best hitting streak to 15 consecutive games with an RBI single in the seventh inning. Cameron Perkins has now reached base safely in 59 straight games dating back to last season after singling in the first inning.
Gunter struck out six batters his first time through the Iowa lineup, allowing only one base runner on a two-out error in the first inning. Gunter quickly erased that runner by picking off Mike McQuillan at first.
Back-to-back singles from Zach McCool and McQuillan set the stage for the Hawkeyes' rally in the fourth inning. After Gunter struck out Taylor Zeutenhorst for the second out of the inning, he walked Bryan Niedbalski to load the bases for Tyson Blaser, who had given Iowa an early lead in the series opener Thursday. Blaser singled up the middle to drive in a pair.
Iowa had its leadoff man reach safely in each of the final four innings without collecting a hit. The Purdue pitchers were able to pitch over the two walks and two errors without any of those runners even reaching second base.
Andrew Dixon made the top defensive play of the game when he made a running catch on the warning track in right field on a well stuck ball Chett Zeise for the first out of the ninth inning.
All five hits the Purdue pitchers allowed were singles. The bullpen did not give up a hit after Niedbalski singled against Collins in the sixth.
Purdue will go for its third series sweep of the year, including second in Big Ten play, Saturday. The Boilermakers will be in search of their first-ever sweep of Iowa in a series of at least three games.