Purdue baseball takes 2-seed into Big Ten tourney, set to play Ohio State

Purdue baseball posted a pair of wins Saturday vs. No. 17 Michigan to complete a series sweep, extend its home win streak to 13 games and finish the season in second place in the Big Ten standings.

Posted: May 21, 2018 1:05 AM

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Purdue baseball posted a pair of wins Saturday vs. No. 17 Michigan to complete a series sweep, extend its home win streak to 13 games and finish the season in second place in the Big Ten standings.

The Boilermakers (34-18, 17-6 B1G) will be the No. 2 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha, the home of the College World Series. Purdue will take on Ohio State on Wednesday at 2 p.m. ET in the opening round of the double-elimination event. The Big Ten Network will be televising every game of the tournament.

Ross Learnard closed out both victories Saturday, which came via scores of 6-3 and 2-1. The senior has established a single-season team record with 15 saves. He earned the save in all three games of the sweep, accomplishing the rare feat for the second time this year.

The home finale at Alexander Field actually began with the final four outs of Friday's suspended game, which the Boilermakers led 6-3 in the eighth inning when heavy rains arrived. Learnard finished off an impressive game for the Purdue bullpen. Bo Hofstra, Trevor Cheaney and Learnard teamed up to retire 14 of Michigan's final 16 batters to help the Boilermakers rally for a series-clinching victory.

Owen Jansen's two-run double in the fifth inning was the difference in the series finale. Both of Purdue's hits in the win came in that frame. Evan Kennedy's leadoff single broke up a fledgling no-hit bid by Karl Kauffmann (6-3). As one of the Boilermakers' seven seniors recognized Saturday, Kennedy left the field to a standing ovation as he gave way to pinch runner Charlie Nasuti. After a walk to classmate Alec Olund and sacrifice bunt by Evan Warden, Jansen delivered the go-ahead double into right center.

Jansen made his first career start in Big Ten play and first start overall since Feb. 23.

Ryan Beard (5-3) matched his season-high with seven strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of one-run ball. He walked in a run in the top of the first, but responded by striking out the next two hitters to limit the damage. Those proved to be the biggest outs of the game.

Michigan (32-19, 15-8 B1G) threatened with two outs in the ninth inning. With a runner at first, Jordan Nwogu hit a hot shot to third base that took a wild hop and hit Warden in the mouth. The ball caromed to the side wall, allowing the runners to move to second and third. Warden suffered a lacerated lip that required stitches after the game, forcing him to leave the field.

After a brief delay to attend to Warden, Dominic Clementi hit a line drive back to the mound that Learnard was able to get a glove on. It slowed the ball up enough to allow shortstop Harry Shipley to make the game-ending play.

• The 13-game home win streak matched the 1987 team for the longest single-season streak at home in program history. Stetson (14) and North Carolina (13) are the only other schools nationally that have won at least 13 straight at home.
• The Boilermakers finished second or better in the Big Ten for the fifth time dating back to 1988. They'll be the No. 2 seed at the Big Ten Tournament for the first time since 2008.
• Purdue swept its sixth weekend series of the season, five coming in Big Ten play.
• The Boilermakers swept Michigan for the first time since 1993. It was their first ever three-game sweep of U-M in West Lafayette.
• Purdue's RPI climbed to 40 with their two wins going final Saturday. It should be the third-best RPI in the conference entering the Big Ten Tournament, behind only Minnesota (16) and Indiana (23).
• The Boilermakers have won 18 of their last 20 games dating back to April 20. Wednesday's opponent Ohio State is the only team to defeat them during that stretch.
• With 17 Big Ten wins, Purdue matched its total from the 2012 Big Ten championship season. However, with one rain out in the mix this year, the 2018 Boilermakers actually had a better winning percentage in conference play (.739 vs. .708).
• Beard posted a 1.91 ERA and .222 batting average against in 33 innings at Alexander Field this spring. Only four of the 26 hits he allowed went for extra bases.
• Trevor Cheaney retired all nine batters he faced this week while working 1-2-3 eighth innings Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Dalton Parker retired all four batters he faced Saturday, working a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
• Learnard closed out 13 of the Boilermakers' 17 Big Ten wins, earning 10 saves to lead the league in conference play. Entering the season, Purdue's career record for saves in Big Ten play was 10. A national query in late April revealed Learnard was one of three closers in the country to have earned saves three times in the same weekend. He has now accomplished the feat twice.
• Learnard earned a save in all four wins this week to eclipse Andy Helmer's single-season record (13) that had stood since 2000. He's now second all-time in program history with 19.

• Skyler Hunter drew the first of four consecutive walks in the eighth inning to extend his reached base safely streak to 20 consecutive games. He'll carry a 17-game reached base safely streak in Big Ten play into 2019. For his career, the switch-hitter has reached base safely in 43 of 47 games against conference rivals.
• Shipley came up one game short of reaching base safely in every home game of the season. His streak was snapped at 21 straight games dating back to last year.
• Nick Dalesandro's 15-game hitting streak at Alexander came to an end but he drew a walk to join Shipley in reaching base safely in all but one home game this season.
• Ten-game hit streaks for Ben Nisle and Olund came to an end. Both drew walks to extend their reached base safely streaks to 14 and 11.
• Jacson McGowan's walk in the bottom of the eighth extended his reached base safely streak at Alexander to 15 consecutive games.

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