Bases-Loaded Chances Prove Decisive
May 25, 2017


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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Both teams had a bases-loaded opportunity with one out late in the game, but it was Maryland that cashed in with a three-run double, defeating Purdue baseball 5-2 in a loser's bracket elimination game Thursday at the Big Ten Tournament.

The Boilermakers finished their first season under head coach Mark Wasikowski with a 29-27 record, winning 19 more games than they did in 2016 as part of the best year-to-year turnaround in program history. Purdue won 10 more games in conference play and qualified for the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2012.

The Terrapins (34-20) scored all five of their runs with two outs. Kevin Smith's three-run double in the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie. The Boilermakers brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the ninth, but only scored in one inning while stranding nine men on base.

Maryland reliever John Murphy struck out six over three innings of one-hit relief. Three of those strikeouts came in the bottom of the sixth after Purdue had the go-ahead run on third base with no outs. After Murphy won an extended battled with Nick Dalesandro, the Terrapins opted to intentionally walk Skyler Hunter to load the bases. Murphy made the move pay off with consecutive strikeouts of Mike Madej and Alec Olund.

Evan Warden's two-out double that hit the right field foul line was the Boilermakers' lone hit against Murphy. Harry Shipley was hit by a pitch and both runners advanced on a double steal, but Murphy again escaped a jam by striking out Jacson McGowan.

Purdue starter Gareth Stroh surrendered just four hits over 5 1/3 innings in another quality outing for the left-hander. Unfortunately, three of those four hits came in the second inning. The bottom of the UMD lineup burned the Boilermakers as Madison Nickens delivered a two-out RBI single and then scored from first base on Justin Morris' subsequent double.

Purdue tied the game with two runs in the bottom of the fifth thanks in part to three errors by the Terps. Mike Madej scored from first on a bunt single by Alec Olund after both the third baseman and right fielder threw the ball away. Hayden Grant followed with a sacrifice fly to plate Olund.

Dalton Parker (2-3) fanned four of the seven batters he faced over an inning and two-thirds of hitless relief, striking out the side in order in the top of the seventh. But he issued consecutive walks to begin the eighth inning and both runners ended up scoring on Smith's two-out double.

The Boilermakers also chose to intentionally walk a batter to load the bases. After cleanup hitter Nick Dunn executed a sacrifice bunt to advance the runners, Purdue put A.J. Lee on base via the free pass. Lee was the lone Terrapin with multiple hits in the game. Ross Learnard came back from a 2-0 count to strike out pinch hitter Will Watson, but Smith delivered the big hit down the left field line.

When Lee scored from first it was only the third run charged to Learnard in 46 1/3 innings this year. The lefty established a new team record for ERA (0.58) by pitchers that worked at least 30 innings, eclipsing a mark that had stood since 1965. Learnard also had the second best WHIP (.863) in program history.

McGowan singled twice and was hit by a pitch, finishing the Big Ten Tournament 4-for-8 with a home run while reaching the 50-RBI benchmark in Wednesday's game. Warden also had four hits over the two games, three going for extra bases. Hunter was held hitless Thursday but finished the year with a .323 batting average, becoming the first freshman since 2010 to lead Purdue in hitting.

The Boilermakers will have to bid adieu to six seniors. However, Purdue can welcome back all but one player in its lineup at the Big Ten Tournament while also returning all six pitchers that worked at least 40 innings this season.

 

 

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