Purdue baseball hangs on to down Illinois St., 8-6

Purdue Baseball

NORMAL, Ill. (Purdue Sports) – Consecutive big innings allowed Purdue baseball to open up an 8-0 lead and Patrick Kenney shut the door after Illinois State rallied to make it a two-run game, closing out an 8-6 win for the Boilermakers Tuesday evening.

Purdue became only the second visiting team to win at ISU’s Duffy Bass Field this season. The road team has won seven consecutive games in the annual midweek series between the Boilers (12-29) and Redbirds (29-13).

Kenney gave up a two-run single to the first batter he faced but came back to retire five of the next six. The game ended on a line drive double play to third base, with Steve Maniago doubling off the runner at first base to erase a one-out hit by pitch.

Sean McHugh connected for a three-run double to left center with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, extending Purdue’s lead to 7-0. After working three innings of one-hit ball in his first start on the mound since Feb. 23, Kyle Wood also delivered a two-run single with the bases loaded to get the scoring started in the Boilers’ four-run fifth inning. He reached base safely for the 22nd consecutive game in which he has batted.

Jeff Evak posted his first career three-hit game, leading off the third, fifth and sixth innings with singles. Fellow freshman Matt Frawley (1-0) was awarded his first collegiate win after retiring the first eight batters he faced, stranding a pair of inherited runners in the bottom of the fifth by retiring ISU’s 3-4-5 hitters in order. Kyle Upp and Brandon Krieg each had a pair of hits and an RBI. Cody Strong reached base safely four times and scored twice.

Purdue won the game despite striking out a season-high 15 times and stranding 13 runners on base. The Boilers’ five pitchers that took the mound issued a combined 11 free passes (seven walks, four HBP). Kenney was the only Purdue pitcher that did not walk a batter. Illinois State stranded 12 runners, including the bases loaded in the third and fourth innings.

The Redbirds had the tying run at first base with no outs in the eighth inning after a two-run single from Paul DeJong with the bases loaded. The first five hitters of the frame had reached base safely despite DeJong recording the only hit. Cleanup hitter Mike Hollenbeck had connected for a two-run double his last time up to get ISU on the board, but he was given the bunt sign in this at-bat. After fouling away a pitch for strike two, the Redbirds gambled and kept the bunt play on. Hollenbeck fouled off another pitch to go down on strikes. Kenney struck out the next batter and got out of the inning on a ground ball to second base.

Illinois State starter Will Headean (3-2) was ejected from the game in the fifth inning after a two-out RBI single from Upp put the Boilers in front 4-0. The left-hander had issued a pair of walks in the inning and five on the day, and felt he was being squeezed by the home plate umpire.

Five of the six runners that scored for ISU over the seventh and eighth innings reached base via a walk, hit by pitch or an error. Brett Haan only retired one of the six batters he faced but that one out was a big one, ending the bottom of the seventh with runners on first and second base. Adam Dressler got out of a bases-loaded jam without a run scoring in the fourth inning to keep the game scoreless.

Evak’s leadoff single along with walks to Strong and McHugh set the stage for Wood’s two-run single through the right side in the top of the fifth. McHugh went first-to-third on the hit and scored on Kyle Johnson’s sacrifice fly to center field. Wood had already stolen second base when Upp came through with his second hit to right center in as many at-bats, driving in a run this time.

The extended rally marked only the second time this season Purdue had scored four runs in an inning. The 8-0 advantage entering the bottom of the seventh represented the Boilers’ biggest lead of the season.

Evak, Krieg and Strong were aboard when McHugh sent a pitch into the left center field gap to clear the bases. A leadoff single for Maniago and an RBI double from Krieg plated another insurance run in the top of the seventh. Krieg has now reached base safely in 10 straight games.

The Boilermakers return to action Friday when they open a three-game Big Ten series at No. 11 Indiana. It will be the first time the two rivals have met in the regular season since May 2011. First pitch Friday is set for 7 p.m.

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