CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (Purdue Sports) – Illinois scored in each of the first three innings to open up a 7-2 lead en route to taking the rubber game of the Big Ten Conference-opening series with Purdue baseball, 8-3, Sunday afternoon.
The Boilermakers (5-18, 1-2 Big Ten) lost the series after winning the opener for the second weekend in a row. In the two innings in which Purdue scored Sunday, the Fighting Illini (14-11, 2-1 Big Ten) matched the run total in the bottom half of the frame.
The Boilermakers were limited to five hits by five Illinois pitchers Sunday. Conner Hudnall delivered a two-out RBI single in the top of the third and Kyle Wood connected for a solo home run in the sixth. Purdue had at least one base runner in each of the first seven innings, but left six runners on base.
In his first start of the season, Mike Lutz (1-4) minimized the damage in the first inning, but surrendered four runs on five hits, an error, sacrifice fly and walk in the second as the Illini went up 5-0. At least the first two batters of the first four innings reached base safely for Illinois.
Sean McHugh’s career-best 12-game hitting streak came to an end but he drew a walk in the fifth inning to reach base safely for the 13th consecutive game. Brandon Krieg led off the game with a single for the second day in a row and now has the top active hitting streak on the team at eight consecutive games. Hudnall and Wood both hit safely in all three games of the series. Hudnall has reached safely in 10 straight games and Wood nine. Matthew McHugh recorded his first collegiate hit with a single in the top of the fourth.
Purdue turned an inning-ending double play in consecutive frames with Brett Haan on the mound. The right-hander induced a 6-4-3 twin killing with Illini leadoff man Will Krug batting in the bottom of the third. The following frame, Haan turned a comebacker into a 1-6-3 double play. The Boilermakers turned four inning-ending double plays in the series to increase their season total of twin killings to 28.
Sean McHugh threw out Krug trying to steal third base in the sixth inning, marking the 15th base stealer he has thrown out this year. The catcher cut down the speedy center fielder twice in the series after Krug was 12-of-15 on stolen base attempts entering the weekend. McHugh also picked a runner off first base to eliminate a leadoff bunt single in the third inning.
Wood went deep to right field for the only home run of the series after there were 11 hit in the Purdue-Illinois series in Champaign last season. It was Wood’s first homer of the season and sixth as a Boilermaker. He homered for the second year in a row at Illinois Field and has hit safely in each of his six games there for Purdue.
Tim McElroy gave up a leadoff triple in the seventh inning but came back to strike out the next three batters on only 10 pitchers. Joe Eichmann worked a 1-2-3 eighth in his third appearance of the series. The junior pitched in all three games of a weekend for the second time this year.
Purdue has lost five consecutive rubber games of weekend series dating to May 2012.
The Boilermakers return to action Wednesday for a 7 p.m. ET midweek game at Illinois-Chicago.