MINNEAPOLIS - Purdue baseball played 20 innings Friday, winning a pair of games to claim its first series victory at Minnesota since 2000 and in the process lock up a Big Ten Tournament berth.
Ross Learnard retired nine of the 10 batters he faced to close out the Boilermakers' 5-2 series-opening win in a game that resumed at noon CT after a partial power outage Thursday led to it being suspended. Behind another quality start from Gareth Stroh, Purdue (29-25, 12-12 B1G) rolled to an 11-1 victory in game two of the series, which began at 2:25 p.m.
The Gophers (33-19, 15-8 B1G) scored nine unanswered runs to salvage the 6:30 p.m. series finale 9-2, keeping their hopes alive of winning the Big Ten regular-season title.
The Boilermakers will be the No. 8 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament, which is set for May 24-28 at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Indiana. Purdue will play Nebraska, Michigan or Minnesota on Wednesday at 5 p.m. live on the Big Ten Network. If Nebraska wins its rubber game at Penn State on Saturday, it will claim its first Big Ten title and the No. 1 seed. Michigan can win the conference with a rubber game victory at Michigan State coupled with a Nebraska loss. Minnesota would repeat as the Big Ten champion if both Nebraska and Michigan lose Saturday.
The Boilermakers qualified for the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since winning it in 2012. The four-year drought was Purdue's longest since a five-year stretch without postseason play from 1988 to 1992. With Northwestern also qualifying for the first time since 2010 this year, Penn State (last bid in 2012) now has the longest active Big Ten Tournament drought in the league.
-- Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 20, 2017
Led by first-year head coach Mark Wasikowski, the Boilermakers improved from 2-22 to 12-12 in league play. Since 1988, Purdue's 2008 squad was the only other Big Ten team to win 10 more conference games than the previous year. The 2017 Boilermakers also became the first team since Penn State (2010-11) to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament a year after finishing last in the standings. Purdue, which won a league-high 18 true road games this year, has also clinched an overall winning record for the first time since setting the program record for victories with a 45-14 mark in 2012.
The Boilermakers had lost eight straight games against Minnesota dating back to an April 2011 rubber game at Target Field. Purdue's last series win vs. the Gophers was a four-game sweep at Lambert Field in April 2008. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers posted just their third series victory in Minneapolis in the all-time series with Minnesota. May 1947 and May 2000 marked the only other times Purdue took a weekend series in the Twin Cities.
The Big Ten Network will televise every game of the Big Ten Tournament again this year. The eight-team field will be comprised of Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Maryland, Indiana, Northwestern and Purdue.
SERIES OPENER: PURDUE 5, MINNESOTA 2 /// BOX SCORE: PDF / HTML
Learnard earned his fourth save of the season, surrendering only a one-out single in the bottom of the eighth while working three scoreless innings. He had been announced as the new pitcher moments before the power outage stopped the game Thursday. For a full recap of the first 6 ½ innings, click HERE.
MIDDLE GAME: PURDUE 11, MINNESOTA 1 /// BOX SCORE: PDF / HTML
Stroh (5-4) worked seven innings of one-run ball, recording his seventh quality start of the season. The left-hander did not issue a walk while surrendering just six singles. Stroh (4) and Thursday starter Tanner Andrews (4) led the way as the Purdue pitching staff worked 14 1-2-3 innings in the series.
Purdue blew the game open early with a five-run second inning. The first seven Boilermakers to come to the plate in the frame put together a productive plate appearance. Olund's two-run triple that went to the wall in left center was the big hit of the rally. Hayden Grant followed with a sacrifice fly.
Freshman Milo Beam enjoyed his finest series of the season, reaching base seven times in 10 plate appearances. His speed led to a couple Minnesota errors during the weekend, including a two-base error on a single to right field in the top of the second. He took third on the play and scored on Evan Warden's squeeze bunt.
Warden was hit by a pitch in three consecutive plate appearances spanning the end of game two and beginning of game three, reaching 30 HBPs for the season. He'll continue to be No. 1 nationally in that statistic entering the postseason.
The Boilermakers left the bases loaded in the fifth inning and had the sacks packed with two outs again the following frame when Harry Shipley delivered a two-run single. Purdue tacked on four more insurance runs.
Stroh retired 14 of the final 16 batters he faced, including the last seven. Minnesota loaded the bases via three straight singles in the third inning. The Gophers' No. 3 and 4 hitters followed with hard hit balls, but Micah Coffey's line drive to center field turned into a sac fly and Olund made a running catch on the warning track in right field on a deep fly ball off the bat of Toby Hanson.
SERIES FINALE: MINNESOTA 9, PURDUE 2 /// BOX SCORE: PDF / HTML
The Boilermakers scored first for the third game in and a row, but Nick Dalesandro's two-run in the first inning turned out to be their only hit of the game. Minnesota starter Reggie Meyer (4-1) retired 13 consecutive batters after Purdue took the early lead. Meyer teamed up with Toby Anderson and Brian Glowicki to set down 25 of the final 26 batters to come to the plate.
The Gophers blew the game open with a six-run bottom of the fourth, taking their first lead of the series. The first 10 Minnesota batters to come the plate put together a productive plate appearance. Eduardo Estarada, who made his only start of the series as part of senior night, delivered two-run singles in both the fourth and fifth innings.
Dalton Parker (2-2) made his first start of the season. The freshman worked a 1-2-3 third inning against the top of the Gophers' lineup, but the wheels came off the following frame. Parker did not record a strikeout for only the third time in his 15 appearances this year.