After falling behind 3-1 in the first inning, Purdue baseball utilized two 4-run innings to overcome Illinois and move into Sunday’s Big Ten Tournament championship game.
The Boilermakers (37-18), beat Illinois (33-20) in a Saturday semi-final, 11-5, in Omaha. With the win, Purdue eliminated the No. 4 seed Illini in the double-elimination tournament.
The Boilers will face Minnesota (40-13) at 2 p.m., Sunday for the championship. Neither team lost a game in the tournament.
Coach Waz continued to highlight how important the assistant coaches have been to #Purdue's big improvements this year. He also acknowledged how its a joy to see the players' hard work & an aggressive style pay off. #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/rjjNh7dewA— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 27, 2018
On Saturday, Purdue scored four runs in fifth and seventh innings, a single run in the first and two in the eighth inning in the win.
In the end, Purdue had 11 runs on 11 hits and made two errors. Illinois had 5 runs on 4 hits, but had 3 errors.
Four of the five runs scored by Illinois were the responsibility of stater Ryan Beard. In his 2 2/3 innings, he gave up two hits, but five walks. He faced 15 hitters.
The bullpen, however, was much better. In the remaining 6 2/3 innings the trio of Trent Johnson, Bo Hofstra and Dalton Parker gave up a combined two hits and one run.
"It was really embarrassing early-on," said Coach Mark Wasikowski in a post-game interview on the Big Ten Network. "I didn't think we were there – I don't think we were there mentally ... we had 10 walks (actually it was eight, but Purdue had two errors, too), it was a sloppy game, but with that said I think with Coach (Steve) Holm and Coach (Wally) Crancer getting the hitters going ... and we still come out on top in a baseball game is really a tremendous job. Give credit to the kids."
Four Boilermakers had multiple hits in the game – including both the No. 1 and No. 2 hitters in the lineup, shortstop Harry Shipley (2 for 3) and catcher Nick Dalesandro (2 for 4). Both scored three runs each. Right fielder Alec Olund (2 for 5) and designated hitter Evan Kennedy (2 for 4) also had two hits each.
None of Purdue's 11 runs were produced by home runs.
Minnesota and Purdue met twice this season in West Lafayette – both were losses. The Boilers lost the first game 22-7 and the second 18-8. The third game of the series was canceled due to inclement weather.
It's been an amazing year for Purdue, which was picked to finish 11th in the conference. It finished the regular season in second and has a chance to win the tournament title on Sunday.
Purdue will have a chance to win the tournament title for the first time since 2012.
Nick Dalesandro, Skyler Hunter & Jacson McGowan discussed a wide variety of topics at Saturday's postgame presser, including the program's turnaround, Sunday's matchup with Minnesota & the run production from the heart of the lineup. #BoilerUp pic.twitter.com/2yEuqbd35H— Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 27, 2018
In a post-game interview on BTN, Wasikowski was asked about how he was going to address the team in preparation for the title game.
"What am I going to say to them?," the coach retorted. "Probably the same thing I've been saying and they say to me every day – we were picked to finish 11th and, yeah, that didn't happen."
"We were picked to finish 11th, and...you know...that didn't happen." 💀💀💀Gotta love @PurdueBaseball manager Mark Wasikowski's response when asked what he'll tell his team before Sunday's championship game: pic.twitter.com/R80LUa55OY— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) May 26, 2018
We've seen some wackiness during this @B1Gbaseball Tournament, but this is a new one.Illinois first baseman Bren Spillane's glove let him down as a toss ripped the webbing, and @PurdueBaseball tied the game at 4 apiece: pic.twitter.com/a6TTU4v3ky— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) May 26, 2018
Rally dance time. pic.twitter.com/1hHePDPVsb— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) May 26, 2018