By: Tim Hackett
On the strength of a hot hitter, some untimely errors, and a shutdown start, Northwestern baseball (13-34) swept the series with Purdue (7-37) this weekend, clinching their first series win of the campaign and their first series sweep since 2007.
On Friday, Purdue pushed across a run in the first inning, but Northwestern responded with three runs in both the first and the second.With the bases loaded in the first, starter Gavin Downs walked Willie Bourbon and then allowed a two-run single to Jake Schieber. Then, in the second, Zach Jones doubled in a run and then scored on a two-run homer by Joe Hoscheit. The junior has now cleared the fences seven times this year, and the two RBI were his sixth and seventh in his last three games.
After allowing a solo home run to Purdue slugger Kyle Wood in the third, Wildcat ace Reed Mason locked it down, allowing just one earned run in seven innings pitched with seven strikeouts. Northwestern added an insurance run in the seventh on a single from Connor Lind, and an RBI triple in the eighth was all Purdue could muster off of reliever Jake Stolley, and Northwestern notched the first win of the series 7-3.
The second game of the series was marred by errors. Purdue put across two runs, both unearned, in the top of the third, before Jack Dunn and Jones drove in a run each in the bottom half to level the score at 2 apiece.
Purdue regained the lead in the fifth on an RBI single from Freshman of the Year contender Nick Dalesandro, but Northwestern battled back in the sixth, taking a 4-3 lead on a two-RBI single from Jack Claeys. Wood tied the game with a double in the seventh, and it looked as if the game was destined for extra innings.
But then in the bottom of the eighth the Boilermakers committed three errors, two by shortstop Duncan McKinnon, allowing the Wildcats the score three runs and take a 7-4 lead. And that’s how the score would remain. Josh Davis’ scoreless eighth inning appearance qualified him for the win, while Tyler Lass’ scoreless ninth earned him his first career save. Starter Joe Schindler had a solid outing as well, recording six strikeouts in 4.1 innings pitched, while only one of the three runs he allowed was earned.
The Boilermakers could not get anything by Tommy Bordignon on the bump Sunday afternoon. The sophomore, making just his second start of the year, pitched 5.1 shutout innings, striking out and walking three and allowing four hits.
From there, four other pitchers combined to complete the shutout, holding Purdue to just six hits. Stolley struck out two in 1.2 innings of relief, while Lass pitched two hitless innings to earn his second save in as many days.
The offense was composed of a Schieber single in the second, an RBI groundout from Lind in the third, and a Hoscheit single in the eighth. The ‘Cats produced eight hits off of starter Shane Bryant, who pitched much better than his line would indicate through 7.1 innings. Bryant’s quality start was not enough, however, as Northwestern captured game three 3-0, sweeping the series.
Purdue failed to pick up any wins, but still featured some strong performers. Both Wood and third baseman Brett Carlson reached base seven times over the weekend, while Dalesandro picked up five hits in 11 at-bats. Brian Ghiselli was excellent in relief on Friday, allowing just two hits in five full innings of work. The Wildcats were led by three hits, three runs, and three RBI from Hoscheit, while right fielder Matt Hopfner reached base six times and Schieber and Claeys combined for five RBI.
Next up for Northwestern is a four-game series with Cal starting next Saturday. While it’s undeniably been a long season for Wildcats baseball, a series sweep and some overall solid play should do wonders for the team’s confidence going forward.