WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) – Even after getting six shutout innings from Connor Podkul, Purdue baseball found itself tied with Illinois-Chicago in the eighth inning when Cody Strong and Sean McHugh drove in a run in consecutive plate appearances to lift the Boilermakers to a 5-3 victory Wednesday evening at Alexander Field.
Purdue (10-27) drew nine free passes (six walks, three HBP) and stole six bases, but left 12 runners on base. Jeff Evak and Steve Maniago each had a pair of hits to make the bottom two spots of the Boilers’ lineup 4-for-7 with three runs scored. They both scored in the eighth inning.
Podkul worked six innings of two-hit ball, striking out a career-high seven and shutting out a UIC lineup that had .312 team batting and had scored 18 runs against Purdue April 1 in Chicago. Podkul’s longest outing since April 2012 was also one of the most successful of the season for the Boilermakers. Though it’s unlikely he’d be able to start Sunday after throwing over 80 pitches, there’s a good chance Podkul will rejoin the weekend rotation in time for the final three weeks of league play.
The Flames (14-19) tied the game thanks to three two-out, run-scoring singles. Alex Jurich singled home UIC’s second run of the game in the eighth inning and took second on the throw home. It turned out to be a key base running play, as the catcher was able to score on Tyler Detmer subsequent RBI single against Matt Gibbs. After Purdue regained the lead in the bottom of the frame, Gibbs (2-0) pitched over a one-out hit by pitch in the ninth to close out the win.
Evak’s cousin Brian Evak started on the mound for the Flames. He walked Jeff in the second and struck him out in the third. Jeff Evak won the rubber meeting of the three matchups with a leadoff single in the bottom of the sixth and helped create a run for the Boilers with his speed. The freshman stole second, took third on a grounder to shortstop and scored on a wild pitch by his cousin.
Evak also had a leadoff single to ignite Purdue’s eighth-inning rally. He stole second as Maniago was looking to bunt. After not being able to get the bunt down, Maniago singled through the right side. With runners on second and third and one out, Strong hit a grounder to first base. Evak slid in safely at the plate for the go-ahead run. Maniago scored an insurance tally on McHugh’s squeeze bunt.
The Boilermakers sent eight men to the plate in the second inning, scoring twice to take an early lead before leaving the bases loaded. Maniago delivered an RBI single to right field and Krieg plated Jordan Lewis with a sacrifice fly.
Podkul did not allow more than one batter to reach base in any of his six innings, retiring the first two batters in each of the first four frames. The big right-hander recorded at least one strikeout in five of the six innings he worked while only walking a pair.
Kyle Johnson walked in each of his first three plate appearances, joining Evak as Boilers to reach base safely three times Wednesday.
Purdue returns to action Friday when it opens a three-game Big Ten series against Ohio State. First pitch at Alexander Field is set for 6:30 p.m.