June 14, 2012
2012 Season Recap | Top Games of 2011
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue baseball enjoyed a historically successful season in 2012, winning a program-record 45 games and a pair of Big Ten Conference championship titles. But in a campaign that featured 59 games over 16 weeks of action, some games and victories prove to be more memorable than others.
The following is a compilation of the Boilers' top games of 2012 as selected by the athletics communications staff. Part two features games 1-10. Part one of the list, which was unveiled Wednesday, featured games 11-20 and the Honorable Mention inclusions. Click HERE for part one.
10.) Feb. 25 -- Purdue 6, at East Carolina 4: The Boilermakers' first big road win of the year doubled as the first game of the season that was tight until the final out. Tied 3-3 entering the sixth, Purdue scored three times and those runs ultimately decided the game. But ECU had a chance to win it in the ninth, loading the bases with one out after Nick Wittgren issued back-to-back walks. With the potential winning run on first and the Pirates' cleanup hitter at the plate with a full count, Wittgren got his man on a comebacker. The Purdue closer fielded his position and started a game-ending 1-2-3 double play. Eric Charles had three hits in the win, including the 200th of his career. He doubled to open the sixth and scored the go-ahead run on a single from Barrett Serrato after ECU intentionally walked Kevin Plawecki to face Serrato. Joe Haase gave way to Blake Mascarello with Purdue leading 6-3 with one out in the sixth. The bases were loaded but Mascarello allowed only one inherited runner to score. He gave up three singles in the eighth but did not allow a run to score thanks in part to a 1-6-3 double play. The Boilermakers turned a season-high four double plays in the victory. >>> Recap | Boxscore
9.) April 22 -- Purdue 8, at Nebraska 3: This Sunday series finale in front of another large and vocal crowd at Haymarket Park represented the Boilers' first true rubber game of the season. Purdue had won Friday's series opener behind a multi-homer game from Cameron Perkins and some stellar relief work from Blake Mascarello. But Nebraska had taken game two Saturday after scoring seven unanswered runs. The wind was blowing out to right field on this day and it was the Boilers that took advantage. Purdue scored in the first inning for the third day in a row and took a 2-0 lead when Barrett Serrato went deep to right in the following frame. But the Boilers blew the game open with a four-run fourth. Three straight hits from Serrato, Angelo Cianfrocco and Ryan Bridges chased Huskers' starter Zach Hirsch. With Purdue leading 3-0, Nebraska brought in a lefty reliever to face David Miller. The shortstop took the count full before launching a pitch down the right field line for a three-run homer. Connor Podkul pitched well in his third weekend start, surrendering runs in only one of the six innings that he started. Nick Wittgren followed Mascarello's lead from Friday, working 3 2/3 innings of shutout relief. He entered the game with runners on second and third, one out and Purdue leading 6-3 in the sixth. The closer retired a pair of All-Big Ten honorees without either base runner scoring on his way to finishing off the win. Purdue did not strikeout at the plate for the first time since 2008 in the rubber game victory and won its first Big Ten series with the Huskers. >>> Recap< | Boxscore
8.) May 24 -- Purdue 5, Ohio State 4: One of the few drawbacks of being the No. 1 seed at a conference tournament that features a pair of opening-round byes, is that the No. 1 seed has to wait for what seems like forever before finally getting a chance to play. By the time the Boilers began their game against Ohio State Thursday evening, four games had already been played and Penn State had already been eliminated. The Buckeyes scored first on a squeeze bunt in the first inning but Purdue quickly answered and led 2-1 entering the sixth. However, it was a bit of a frustrating night for the Boilers; they had at least one base runner in every inning in which they batted but left 11 runners on base. Joe Haase had retired 17 of 18 batters when OSU strung together three straight two-out hits in the top of the sixth to go up 3-2. The Big Ten Pitcher of the Year finished his night strong by retiring the final seven batters he faced but Purdue still trailed entering the bottom of the seventh. With Indiana beating Michigan State earlier in the day, a loss would have forced the Boilers to play Nebraska Friday at noon, making for a quick and undesirable turnaround as well as a long journey through the loser's bracket. Instead, Purdue surged in front thanks to one big swing of the bat from Big Ten Player of the Year Kevin Plawecki, who crushed the final pitch thrown by OSU starter John Kuchno down the left field line for a go-ahead two-run homer. Stephen Talbott led off the eighth with a base hit and scored what proved to be the game-deciding run when Cameron Perkins beat the throw to first to stay out of an inning-ending double play. Nick Wittgren walked a pair in the ninth but left the potential tying run at second base, closing out the win with a K to earn his Big Ten-leading 10th save of the season. Haase also picked up his league-leading 10th win, tying the program's single-season record. >>> Recap | Boxscore | BTN Highlights
7.) March 31 -- at Purdue 2, Penn State 0: The top pitcher's duel of the 2012 season at Lambert Field, the middle game of the Purdue-PSU series, saw both starters (Lance Breedlove and Joe Kurrasch) carry a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Breedlove was perfect entering the seventh, retiring the first 19 Nittany Lions' batters of the game until Sean Deegan singled with one out. Kurrasch did not give up a hit until Kevin Plawecki singled to begin the bottom of the seventh. In his only start of the year, it was senior Chris Antonelli that delivered the big hit, singling through the right side with two outs to plate Plawecki from second base. David Miller followed with an RBI triple to right field. Breedlove needed only 101 pitches to retire 27 of the 29 batters he faced in a two-hit shutout, earning his third Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honor for the gem. Meanwhile, the victory was Purdue's 20th of the season and the 400th of Doug Schreiber's coaching career. The Boilermakers reached the 20-win mark before April 1 for the first time in program history. The Nittany Lions would score 16 runs Sunday, the most against Purdue in 2012, to avoid being swept; they did not lose a Big Ten series the rest of the season. Kurrasch (8th Round, Giants) and Breedlove (23rd Round, Pirates) were both selected in the MLB Draft in June. >>> Recap | Boxscore | Photo Gallery 1 | Photo Gallery 2
6.) March 3 -- Purdue 10, Southern Miss 9: In what turned out to be the quasi championship game of Auburn's four-team tournament the first weekend of March, Southern Miss was unquestionably the better team for the first six innings. The Golden Eagles scored three times in the third and four times in the fifth en route to carrying a 9-3 lead into the seventh. USM starter Jake Drehoff was cruising along, surrendering only three singles after giving up a solo home run to Kevin Plawecki to open the bottom of the fourth. After the lefty retired the first two Boilers to begin the seventh inning, David Miller singled up the middle to keep the inning alive. And with that, Purdue's bats came to life in a big way. Miller's single ignited a seven-run rally. Approximately only 15 minutes later, Barrett Serrato connected for a three-run homer to right center that gave the Boilers the lead for the first time since it was 1-0 in the bottom of the first. Seven consecutive batters reached base safely with two outs in the seventh. USM reliever Cameron Giannini had not surrendered a hit over five innings in his first two appearances of the season. But on this day, he did record an out. He walked Eric Charles, gave up back-to-back RBI singles to Cameron Perkins and Plawecki and Serrato took him deep to right center. Meanwhile, Jack DeAno worked three innings of hitless relief to earn the win in his collegiate debut. The redshirt-sophomore, who transferred to Purdue as an outfielder, had not pitched since the spring of 2009, his senior year of high school. >>> Recap | Boxscore
5.) March 27 -- at Purdue 2, Louisville 1 (10 innings): Finally getting an opportunity to play at home after compiling a 16-4 record while playing their first 20 games on the road, a large crowd and favorable weather greeted the Boilers for the final home opener in the 48-year history of Lambert Field. A quality opponent that would go on to win the Big East Conference also awaited Purdue. The Louisville Cardinals were also nationally ranked and looking for a little payback after losing to the Boilers in the Commonwealth of Kentucky a year earlier. Both teams started freshman righthanders who doubled as Indiana natives. Connor Podkul and Jared Ruxer would both go on to become part of their teams' weekend rotations. Podkul did not surrender a hit over six innings. Louisville manufactured a run in the fourth, advancing a hit batsman on a wild pitch, fly ball to center field and sac fly to right center. Purdue had taken an early 1-0 lead in the second on a double from Kevin Plawecki and RBI single from Barrett Serrato. The Cardinals had at least one hit in all four innings of relief worked by Blake Mascarello, but the lefty escaped a number of jams and kept the game tied. Angelo Cianfrocco led off the bottom of the 10th with a double and took third on a sacrifice bunt from Andrew Dixon. After David Miller was hit by a pitch, Stephen Talbott cashed in on his opportunity to the play the hero, singling into right center. He was mobbed by teammates near first base moments later. The exciting finish proved to be a case of foreshadowing of the Lambert Field finale. >>> Recap | Boxscore | Photo Gallery 1 | Photo Gallery 2
4.) May 26 -- Purdue 6, Indiana 5: On a hot day in the capital of Ohio, the Boilers had the luxury of spending most of the day in their climate-controlled hotel rooms awaiting to see who would emerge from the Indiana-Michigan State Big Ten Tournament rematch. The Spartans had chances to win the game in the late innings, but some unique defensive alignments helped the Hoosiers persevere and win an 11-inning thriller. Against Purdue, Indiana started its same pitcher (Ryan Halstead) that had closed out the MSU game. The Boilers gave the ball to Robert Ramer, who kept IU off the scoreboard until the fifth inning. Tied 4-4 entering the eighth inning, Kevin Plawecki led off with his second go-ahead home run of the tournament. But thanks to a leadoff double in the bottom of the frame, the Hoosiers tied the game again. Andrew Dixon scored the game-winning run in the ninth on arguably the wildest play of the season. With runners on the corners and one out, David Miller stayed in a rundown between third base and home plate long enough to give Dixon a chance to advance to third. When IU third baseman Dustin DeMuth tried to throw Dixon out at third, the throw got away down the left field line and Dixon scored easily. The benches emptied moments later after a scuffle at third base. Eric Charles, who hit the ground ball to third base that began the sequence, had slid into third awkwardly while being tagged out for the third out. Following a lengthy delay as the umpires sorted out the fracas, Nick Wittgren returned to the mound and worked a 1-2-3 inning to close out the win and make the Boilers Big Ten Tournament champions for the first time. It was Purdue's seventh straight win against its long-time rival dating back to May 2010. >>> Recap | Boxscore | Photo Gallery | BTN Highlights
3.) May 15 -- at Purdue 2, Indiana State 1 (10 innings): The final game in the history of Lambert Field was supposed to feature the Boilers taking on a 21-30 Butler team. But the Bulldogs had to cancel games against both Indiana State and Purdue in the final two weeks of the regular season due to overscheduling. The Sycamores agreed to visit Lambert instead, setting up a midweek showdown featuring two teams with a combined 79-22 record. Another pitcher's duel developed and ISU's unearned run in the fourth inning stood as the only tally until the bottom of the ninth. The Sycamores ended up using three pitchers in the ninth. After a righthader had retired Cameron Perkins and Kevin Plawecki, ISU went to the bullpen for a lefty to face Barrett Serrato. Purdue opted to pinch hit, sending up Sean McHugh. Instead of it being the final at-bat in the history of Lambert Field, McHugh created a memory that should last forever. The sophomore hit the second pitch over the left field wall for a game-tying home run, the first pinch-hit roundtripper for Purdue since May 2010. After Nick Wittgren worked a 1-2-3 frame in the top of the 10th, David Miller led off the bottom of the frame with a single up that middle that was undoubtedly aided by a "Lambert Field" hop past the second baseman. After a pair of bunts, Cameron Perkins delivered a line drive to left field that gave Purdue its 40th win of the season and third in walk-off fashion. The Boilermakers officially bid adieu to Lambert Field in exciting fashion. >>> Recap | Boxscore | Photo Gallery
2.) May 6 -- Purdue 15, at UCLA 11: Both teams were ranked among the Top 15 in the national polls and were idle from conference play during the first weekend of May. The Boilermakers took to the skies and flew out to Los Angeles for their first games in California since 2001. Pitching dominated Saturday's doubleheader, which featured just a combined 11 runs in 18 innings. Sunday, there were 11 runs scored in the ninth inning alone. And Purdue scored 10 of them to overcome a five-run deficit and steal the series finale. The game was tied 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth when a dropped fly ball in short right field helped UCLA score four unearned runs to grab control of the contest. Purdue had not scored since the fifth inning but UCLA still opted to use closer Scott Griggs in a non-save situation in the ninth. The hard-throwing righthander gave the Boilers life by issuing four walks. With the bases loaded, one out and UCLA now leading 10-6, the Bruins brought in a lefthander to face Andrew Dixon and Tyler Spillner. Dixon singled home a run and Spillner hit a sac fly to right field. Purdue would not make another out for about 20 minutes. Seven consecutive two-out, run-scoring hits and two more pitching changes took place before the Bruins finally retired the side. Purdue had gone from five runs down to five up. As a Sunday series finale that started at 4 p.m. ET, much of the college baseball action across the nation was already finished as the extended rally was taking place. And Purdue's big inning received its first share of national recognition, both as it was happening and after the fact. Sean McHugh, who had replaced Kevin Plawecki behind the plate in the bottom of the eighth, walked to begin the ninth and later singled home the game-tying run. He was one of four Boilers to reach base safely twice in the frame. >>> Recap | Boxscore
1.) April 28 -- at Purdue 4, Michigan State 3 (14 innings): The only undesirable aspect about the final Saturday of April at Lambert Field was the unseasonably cold weather. The 14-inning marathon began as a pitcher's duel between Lance Breedlove and Andrew Wazsak. It featured late-inning heroics and big hits from the some of the top players on both teams. The longest game at Lambert Field since April 2004 also featured some solid relief pitching and finally a walk-off celebration. Ultimately, the 14-inning thriller determined the winner of the Purdue-MSU series. The Boilermakers had won the opener behind a grand slam from Barrett Serrato. The Spartans took the finale behind a complete-game shutout from David Garner. But on this day, Eric Charles nearly single-handedly helped Purdue extend the game into extra innings. The senior reached base safely five times in the win, driving in the Boilers' first run of the day with a single in the eighth and tying the game in the ninth with a two-out, two-run single. Michigan State had taken the lead on a bases-clearing triple into the right field corner from Torsten Boss in the top of the eighth. Coincidentally, that swing accounted for the only runs of the season scored by an opponent at Lambert Field against Breedlove. Nick Wittgren regrouped after giving up the three-run triple, striking out the side in the ninth and working back-to-back 1-2-3 frames. Blake Mascarello got the first batter he faced to hit into an inning-ending 4-6-3 double play in the 11th. Finally in the 14th, back-to-back errors and a wild pitch gave Purdue runners on second and third with no outs and Cameron Perkins at the plate. Despite being 0-for-6 on the day, Perkins delivered a clean single to right center for a walk-off winner. >>> Recap | Boxscore
Honorary No. 1, May 12 -- Purdue 14, Michigan 3: The Boilermakers scored in every inning in which they batted except the first. So the game was never really in doubt. May 12, 2012 will forever live in Purdue baseball and Lambert Field lore for reasons beyond the line scores on the scoreboard. As the middle game of the final weekend series in the history of Lambert Field, a number of program alumni representing over five decades of Purdue baseball were present. The Big Ten Network was also on campus to witness the final innings of the season-long coronation of a conference champion. The Boilermakers had won Friday's series opener in shutout fashion to push their magic number to one. On this day, Lance Breedlove retired 20 consecutive batters after giving up a leadoff single to begin the game. Fellow senior Sean Collins was bestowed with the honor of being the man on the mound in the ninth inning. The final out was a ground ball to third base, Cameron Perkins fielding and throwing across the diamond to Kevin Plawecki at first. As the Purdue players came running out of the dugout, as they did three other times following walk-off wins during the final season at Lambert, a championship-celebrating dog pile between the mound and first base would commence. No longer would the 1909 Boilermakers stand alone as the program's only champions. The Dream Team had set out to end the drought. On this Saturday in front of a Lambert Field-record crowd, the goal had been achieved, the mission accomplished. It would have been difficult to write a better script for how the final days of Lambert Field should play out. It was the players and coaches that made those storylines a reality. >>> Recap | Boxscore | Photo Gallery 1 | Photo Gallery 2 | BTN Highlights