Minnesota sweeps Purdue baseball

WLFI File Photo
WLFI File Photo

MINNEAPOLIS (Purdue Sports) – Purdue baseball came out on the wrong end of a pair of walk-off finishes after holding the lead with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning twice, suffering a series sweep at the hands of Minnesota Sunday afternoon.

Game two of the series was completed Sunday after it was halted due to rain in the eighth inning Saturday night. The Gophers (26-20, 12-9 Big Ten) won 6-5 in 10 innings on a walk-off home run by Bobby Juan. Minnesota later scored three times in the bottom of the ninth to take the series finale, 4-3. All three games of the series were decided by one run, dropping the Boilermakers (12-35, 5-16 Big Ten) to 2-8 in one-run affairs in Big Ten play this year.

Illinois led Iowa, 4-2, in the ninth inning when a lightning delay went into effect in Iowa City. If the teams are able to resume play, a comeback win for the Hawkeyes would eliminate Purdue from Big Ten Tournament contention. The Boilermakers host Iowa next weekend and could still qualify for the tournament if they were to sweep the three-game series.

Sean McHugh hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning of the resumed game to give Purdue a 5-3 lead. It was his fourth of the season and 13th career. Matt Gibbs retired the first two batters of the bottom of the frame before a two-out single from Connor Schaefbauer and two-run homer by Tony Skjefte sent the game to extras. Juan hit the first pitch of the bottom of the 10th over the right field wall for the game winner.

Three singles, two walks, a sacrifice fly and a game-winning hit by pitch allowed the Gophers to rally for victory in the series finale. Schaefbauer beat out an infield hit to first base after Tim McElroy was late to cover the bag, plating the tying run with two outs. A walk loaded the bases and McElroy clipped Dan Olinger on the elbow with the first pitch of the lefty-lefty matchup to force in the game-winning run.

Purdue led the series finale 3-0 until the seventh behind six strong innings from starter Connor Podkul, who retired 15 of the first 17 batters he faced. The big rig-hander struck out six.

Cody Strong, Kyle Wood and Kyle Johnson all drove in a run in the Boilers’ three-run third inning after Jeff Evak ignited the rally with a leadoff triple. But Purdue managed only two hits, those coming back-to-back in the top of the eighth, after the fourth inning.

Brandon Krieg extended his reached base safely streak to 16 consecutive games by hitting safely in all three games of the series. Jack Picchiotti walked in sixth inning of the series finale and has now been on safely in 16 straight games in which he has started.

The Boilermakers have played in a Big Ten-high eight extra-innings games this season, compiling a 3-5 record in the extended affairs.

Purdue begins its final home week Tuesday with its midweek finale against Indiana State at 6:30 p.m. The Iowa series begins Thursday evening and runs through Saturday afternoon.

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