The Northwestern Wildcats took the field against the Purdue Boilermakers Sunday with the opportunity to move into a statistical tie with Purdue for the eighth and final spot in the Big Ten conference tournament with 3 games remaining in their conference schedule.
That opportunity also came on senior day for Northwestern, as the careers of JC Santini, Ruben Fontes, Parker Hanks, Tommy D'Alise, Mike Doherty and Anthony Calarco near a close.
Despite the circumstances of the day, the opportunity to get a dub never came to fruition, and the 'Cats will have to look toward their final series of the season at Minnesota hoping they can get some help from Maryland to get into the Big Ten Tournament.
Northwestern got off to a slow start early, as Purdue capitalized on 4 walks by 'Cats starting pitcher Grant Comstock and 3 errors in the first two innings to push across a pair of runs, the first courtesy of a fielding error at third base that allowed Curtis Washington Jr to score after a stolen base, and the second coming via a RBI double that one-hopped off the wall in left field from Steve Ramirez.
"We've been talking about it all year as a pitching staff, being consistent and attacking the strike zone," said Northwestern Baseball head coach Josh Reynolds after the game. "Every one of their runs today today--except for the home run--was affected by a walk in some way, shape or form."
On the other side of the diamond, Purdue starting pitcher Troy Wansing kept Northwestern guessing early, the lone blemish through 2 innings being a walk to Anthony Calarco in the first inning that was wiped out on a Jay Beshears double play the following at-bat.
The 'Cats had opportunities to get something going in the bottom of the third and fourth.
JC Santini singled to shortstop and Tony Livermore walked to put runners at first and second with one out in the third inning, but Patrick Herrera struck out and Anthony Calarco lined out to short to end the inning.
In the fourth, Ruben Fontes singled back up the middle and Stephen Hrustich walked with two outs before Wansing induced an inning-ending ground out from Tommy D'Alise to keep Northwestern off the board.
The bats went silent through the fifth and Purdue struck again in the top of the sixth.
Paul Toetz and Cam Thompson worked back-to-back walks to start the inning before Evan Albrecht laced a double down the left field line, knocking in both to widen Purdue's lead to 4-0.
After Jake Jarvis grounded out to first to advance Albrecht to third, Ramirez drove him in with his second RBI hit of the day, this time a single to right field that made it a 5-0 ballgame in favor of the Boilermakers.
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The 'Cats tried to mount their own run at the plate in the bottom half of the sixth, as Jay Beshears led off the inning with a line drive single back up the middle, then Ethan O'Donnell followed Beshears by reaching base on an error by Wansing to put runners at first and second with no outs.
But once more, the bats sputtered with runners on base, as Fontes flew out to left, Hrustich lined out to left, and D'Alise struck out to end the inning.
Wansing's day on the mound came to an end with two outs in the sixth. The Kansas City, MO native surrendered just 3 hits and 4 walks across 5.2 innings pitched with 4 strikeouts.
Purdue added an insurance run in the top of the eighth, as Mike Bolton Jr hit a sacrifice fly to left field to drive in Albrecht from third and extend Purdue's lead to 6-0.
Northwestern's bats finally hit pay dirt in the home half of the eighth. Beshears doubled into the gap in left center field, then O'Donnell hit a hard, line drive single to right center to knock in Beshears from second, making it a 6-1 ballgame.
O'Donnell advanced to second on a passed ball, then Hrustich drove him in with a double off the right field wall to make it 6-2 in favor of Purdue.
Perhaps feeling a little bit of momentum swinging their way going into the ninth inning, Purdue stole it right back as CJ Valdez hit a solo home run to left field to widen their lead back to five at 7-2, the eventual final score.
"I wish we could have gone out on a better note at home today," Reynolds said. "Hopefully we can take care of business at Minnesota and just see if we can get some help somewhere."
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