May 27, 2005
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -
Eric Wolfe crossed the plate on a rocket off the bat of John Hunter in the 11th inning, giving the Purdue Boilermakers a 4-3 win over top-seeded Illinois in the 2005 Big Ten Baseball Tournament. The win advanced the Boilermaker Nine into the consolation finals, while the Fighting Illini fell from the tournament.
The win for the Boilermakers was their second in their final at-bat of the game on Friday, having defeated Michigan earlier in the day on ninth-inning back-to-back home runs.
In the bottom of the 11th, after Illinois starter Jimmy Conroy yielded a bloop base hit into left-center by Eric Wolfe and then a passed ball allowed the Boilermaker first baseman to move to second. On the ensuing pitch, John Hunter laced a shot into right field that was too hot to handle, skipping past Trevor Huisinga and sending Wolfe to the plate with the winning run.
Purdue will play at 3:35 p.m. on Saturday vs. the loser of Friday evening's contest between Minnesota and Ohio State. Purdue will need to win three more games to claim the tournament title.
A leadoff double in the second by Illinois' Drew Davidson, the 2005 Big Ten Player of the Year, resulted in the first run of the ballgame. Davidson scored from third base with one out on a single up the middle by Shawn Roof.
The Illini added to their lead in the third inning after a double by J.R. Kyes came home to score off Chris Robinson's triple.
Purdue responded in the bottom half of the third after Andy Dahl reached on a bunt single and Dane Wolfe lofted a single into shallow right field. Mitch Hilligoss continued to swing a hot bat, rocketing a double to the wall in left-center to score Dahl with Purdue's first run. With a 0-1 count, Eric Wolfe drove a shot to deep center that was tipped at the wall by centerfielder Drew Davidson. The wall landed on top of the centerfield wall and rolled along the top of the fence for appoximately three feet before falling back into the playing field. The shot scored two runs and was ruled a triple, despite protests by the Boilermaker coaches. A meeting of the umpires ruled that the top of the wall at Illinois Field is in play and therefore the ball never left the playing area for a home run. With the three run inning, Purdue took a 3-2 lead after three.
Back-to-back singles for Illinois in the top of the fourth inning produced the tying run. Toby Gardenhire's groundout to short drove home Mike Rohde from third base, moving the score to 3-3.
The pitchers took over after the top of the fourth inning, throwing zeroes on the scoreboard through the tenth inning. For the Boilermakers, starter Brent Coudron put a zero on the board in the fifth and then gave way to Jay Buente (3-2), who threw six scoreless innings. Conroy (8-3) kept Purdue off the scoreboard from the third inning until the winning run crossed the plate in the 11th.
Purdue recorded 12 hits in the game, thre each by Hilligoss and Eric Wolfe. Wolfe is the top hitter in the tourhament for the Boilermakers, batting .500 (7-14) in three games.