Thanks in part to a five-run rally, No. 13 Purdue baseball made it a game after facing a seven-run deficit, but Iowa hung on to take the rubber game of the series, 7-6, Saturday afternoon in the regular-season finale.
The Boilermakers (41-12, 17-7 Big Ten) lost their first Big Ten series of the season and suffered only their second losing weekend of the year. Thursday, Purdue clinched the outright regular-season conference title and No. 1 seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. The Boilers will play Thursday at 7:05 p.m. against the No. 4, 5 or 6 seed.
Eric Charles delivered a three-run double in the seventh inning, the Boilers’ third two-bagger of the frame. But he was called out at the plate moments later trying to score on a sacrifice fly to left field off the bat of Cameron Perkins. Charles slid in under the tag but the umpire called him out. The senior was ejected for arguing the call.
Iowa (23-27, 10-14 Big Ten) scored its seven run on 17 hits, the most given up by the Purdue pitching staff since April 1. The Hawkeyes scored 21 runs in the series, the most by a Big Ten opponent against the Boilers this year.
Purdue had the potential tying run on third base with two outs in the ninth inning, but Barrett Serrato lined out to left field to end the game. A throwing error by the Iowa shortstop on ball hit by Kevin Plawecki helped keep the inning alive. Perkins was aboard at the time and took third on the throw, later scoring on a wild pitch.
The Boilermakers also left runners on first and second in the eighth inning.
The Hawkeyes scored in each of the first three innings to jump out to a 6-0 lead. Iowa starter Jarred Hippen (4-7) kept the Boilers down for six innings, earning his third career win in five starts against Purdue. But back-to-back doubles from Ryan Bridges and Angelo Cianfrocco ignited the Boilers’ second five-run inning in as many years against Hippen.
Mike McQuillan led off the game with a home run for Iowa and finished the day 4-for-5. Chett Zeise also had four hits as the cleanup hitter. The two seniors finished the weekend 14-for-23 with seven RBI and seven runs scored. Both players had a hit in each of the first two innings Saturday.
Purdue starter Connor Podkul (2-3) had another short outing, giving up five runs (four earned) on six hits over an inning and two-thirds. Calvin Gunter surrendered hits to the first two batters he faced in the second inning, allowing a pair of inherited runners to score. The left-hander was only able to retire two of the seven batters he faced.
Blake Mascarello, Brett Andrzejewski and Nick Wittgren teamed up for 5 2/3 innings of one-run relief but the Boilers couldn’t come all the way back from the 7-0 deficit.
Purdue successfully threw out a potential insurance run at the plate in the seventh inning. With runners on second and third and one out, the Boilers brought the infield in and Wittgren got pinch hitter Jacob Yacinich to hit a ground ball to shortstop. David Miller threw the runner out at home to keep it a 7-5 game. The first out of the top of the seventh inning was not recorded until Perkins hit the fly ball to left field with Charles at third base. After the back-to-back doubles from Bridges and Cianfrocco, a walk to Miller loaded the bases. Stephen Talbott followed with an RBI single. The bases remained loaded when the Iowa shortstop couldn’t handle a ground ball off the bat of Tyler Spillner.
Charles initially hit a foul pop up in front of the Iowa dugout. The first baseman, pitcher and catcher converged but the ball popped out of McQuillan’s glove and dropped for a foul ball. Charles then doubled into the left field corner. Spillner scored from first on the play and Charles was called safe on a close play at third, advancing on the throw.
This year’s Big Ten Tournament field features No. 1 Purdue, No. 2 Indiana, No. 3 Penn State, No. 4 Nebraska, No. 5 Michigan State and No. 6 Ohio State. If Ohio State defeats Penn State Wednesday, the Boilers would play the Buckeyes. If Penn State wins, Purdue plays the winner of the Nebraska-Michigan State game. The tournament begins at noon Wednesday at Huntington Park in Columbus, Ohio. The Boilermakers are making their fifth straight appearance, but will be the No. 1 seed for the first time.