May 21, 2005
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Purdue swept a twinbill from rival Indiana at Sembower Field on Saturday, setting up a chance at the improbable, a Big Ten Conference championship for the Boilermakers.
If the Boilermakers win on Sunday and Iowa defeats Illinois in Champaign, Purdue would claim its first conference crown since 1909, the inaugural championship of the Big Ten. Purdue has locked up no worse than a second place finish in the conference, securing a bye in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament
Purdue won the first game of Saturday's doubleheader 6-1, then scored twice in the seventh inning of the nightcap to post a 2-0 victory in Game Two.
Mitch Pruemer went the distance in the first game of the day, striking out a career-high nine batters. The senior pitcher's previous high was seven strikeouts, which he did twice vs. Indiana (2002 and 2003) and against Middle Tennessee State (2003).
In Game Two, starter Brent Coudron pitched the opening 1.1 innings before being lifted in favor of Trae Dauby, who hurled five innings for the win. Chris Toneguzzi retired the final two batters of the game for his sixth save of the season and second of the weekend.
Purdue scored immediately in the early game on Saturday, plating two runs in the first innings on singles by Mitch Hilligoss and Mike Coles, a sacrifice by Eric Wolfe, and a two-run base hit by John Hunter.
Tyler Heck's single in the fourth inning drove home Andy Dahl, who walked with one down and moved to second on a bunt by Eric Osborn. Indiana countered with a run in the bottom of the inning on two hits and an error, but the Hoosiers would not be able to muster another run against Pruemer.
Hunter struck in a big way in the sixth inning, blasting a home run deep over the fence in left field for his second roundtripper of the season, giving Purdue a 4-1 lead. Later in the inning, Andy Dahl doubled and swiped third base before Osborn lifted a sacrifice fly into right field for Purdue's fifth run.
The Boilermakers iced the win with a run in the seventh on four singles, scoring on a base hit by Hunter that plated Hilligoss. For the game, Hunter was 3-for-4 at the plate with a run and four RBI, while Hilligoss picked up two hits and two runs.
The Hilligoss single in the seventh was the sophomore's 82nd of the season, tying the single-season record at Purdue established in 1987 by former major leaguer Archi Cianfrocco.
Game Two was a pitchers duel as Dauby, who entered after Coudron had a rocky start, battled IU's Matt Saba inning for inning. For the first six innings, Purdue could manage to put just two runners into scoring position. Coudron allowed five of the first seven batters of the game to reached base before being pulled, but Dauby got out of a jam in the second inning and allowed only three Hoosier baserunners over the next 4.1 innings.
In the top of the seventh inning, Eric Wolfe singled to open the frame, but was forced out at second on a bunt by Hunter. With John Phegley on to run for Hunter at first, Spencer Ingaldson bunted down the third base line for a single, moving Phegley to second. A double by Osborn with two down to right-center scored Phegley with the game's first run. With runner's at second and third, a third strike to pinch-hitter Matt Bush got away from the IU catcher, allowing Bush to reach first safely and Ingaldson to scamper home with the second run.
With one down in the bottom of the seventh, IU got a single by Michael Nilled off Dauby, bringing Toneguzzi in out of the bullpen. The junior closer coaxed two grounders from the Hoosier batters, retiring both IU hitters to end the game.
Approximately two hours later, Iowa defeated Illinois for the second time in three games this weekend, setting up the final day of the Big Ten season. A Big Ten title for Purdue comes down to two games, as the Boilermakers need a win over IU in Bloomington and a Hawkeye win over the Illini in Champaign.
Both contests begin at 1 p.m.