May 27, 2011
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Purdue baseball stranded 12 men on base, including six in scoring position, and had a runner thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning, losing a 1-0 heartbreaker to Minnesota in an elimination game at the Big Ten Tournament Friday afternoon.
The Boilermakers (37-20) conclude their quality 2011 campaign with a win total that matched a program record. The Golden Gophers (25-23) won their third straight elimination game in the loser's bracket and advance to play Saturday at 3:30 p.m. against the loser of Friday night's Illinois-Michigan State game.
Purdue was shutout for only the second time this season and for the first time in the program's history at the Big Ten Tournament. The Boilermakers had not lost a 1-0 game since April 2009 against Ohio State.
Purdue entered the tournament having scored the most runs in the Big Ten. But the Boilers were only able to score one run in their final two games of the event.
Tyler Spillner led off the eighth inning with a base hit against First Team All-Big Ten relief pitcher Scott Matyas. After moving into second base on a sacrifice bunt from Payton Bieker, Spillner tried to score on a base hit through the right side by Barrett Serrato. Spillner was called out on a close play at the plate, getting thrown out by Minnesota right fielder Justin Gominsky.
The Gophers scored the only run of the game on a one-out single from AJ Pettersen with runners on the corners and one out in the seventh inning. Troy Larson scored the only run after leading off the frame with a base hit against Joe Haase, who was lifted with a 1-and-0 count on Pettersen. The Minnesota shortstop hit the first pitch from Nick Wittgren into center field for the RBI single.
After pitching a complete game shutout against Minnesota April 2 at Target Field, Haase (6-4) had worked 15 consecutive scoreless innings against the Gophers until they were finally able to score against the junior.
Eric Charles led the way for Purdue with four hits to finish the season with a team-best .351 batting average. He was 6-for-12 at the Big Ten Tournament. The second baseman saved two runs with a great diving stop on a grounder by Nick O'Shea with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning.
Charles reached on a two-out infield single in the ninth inning, taking second on a throwing error by Pettersen. But Matyas got Cameron Perkins to fly out to the warning track in right field to end the nail biter.
Perkins was able to single with two outs in the fifth inning to reach base safely in every game this season and 63 consecutive games dating back to 2010.
Purdue had at least on base runner in every inning. The Boilermakers recorded a hit in every frame but the sixth inning, finished the game with 12. However, only Charles' line drive double off the wall in left field in the seventh inning went for extra bases.
David Miller was on first base when Charles connected for the double with one out. Miller was held at third with the three-four portion of the order due up. But Minnesota reliver Billy Soule (3-2) escaped the jam, retiring both Perkins and Kevin Plawecki on the first pitch of their at-bats. Perkins popped out and Plawecki hit a ground ball to second base, which was bobbled initially by Matt Puhl but he recovered in time to still get the inning-ending out at first base.
Gophers' starting pitcher Tom Windle took the mound after closing out the first game of the day against Ohio State. The left-hander worked five scoreless innings, the biggest out he recorded being the final one in the fifth inning. With Perkins and Charles on second and third, Windle got Plawecki to pop out to end the threat.
Haase also escaped a jam in the sixth inning, retiring the No. 5 and 6 hitters with two runners aboard.
The Boilermakers will have to bid adieu to three seniors but are expected to return the entire regular starting lineup for the 2012 campaign, which will see Purdue open its new stadium in April.
Complete recap to follow...