BUIES CREEK, N.C. (Purdue Sports) — More stellar pitching and defense prevented Purdue baseball from trailing for the third day in a row and after a patented big inning arrived late, the Boilermakers were a 7-1 winner over Villanova on Sunday to clinch the team title at the Campbell Invitational.
Purdue did not commit an error in the tournament while surrendering just seven runs over three games. The Boilermakers won a tournament for the first time since taking Notre Dame's Alamo Irish Classic in February 2018. At 6-1 and winners of five straight, they kept pace with their 2012 and 2018 NCAA Regional teams for the best one-loss starts of this century.
Ben Nisle homered in the second inning as Purdue scored first for the sixth game in a row. He also drove in the go-ahead run in the sixth inning when his hot shot caromed off the mound and got through the second baseman. Kyle LaPlante scored from second base.
Jackson Smeltz worked 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief and navigated the Boilermakers through the high-leverage inning in the top of the sixth. With the game tied 1-1, he replaced starter Jett Jackson after a leadoff double. Smeltz promptly stuck out Villanova's cleanup hitter. After an intentional walk and wild pitch put runners on second and third with one out, the Wildcats (3-3) attempted a squeeze bunt. Smeltz made the play with ease, a clean pick and flip to Zac Fascia at the plate where the potential go-ahead run was tagged out.
Smeltz (1-0) eventually got out of the inning and went on to retire the final five batters he faced, earning his first collegiate win after LaPlante and Nisle put Purdue ahead in the bottom of the sixth.
Jackson retired the first eight batters he faced, striking out five over five innings of one-run ball. He struck out Villanova's 4-5-6 hitters in order in the second inning. Purdue pitchers posted another 10-strikeout game after Eric Hildebrand and Matt Moore each punched out a Nova batter. Trevor Cheaney recorded the final out in his first appearance since the Chapel Hill Regional in 2018. He redshirted in 2019 with an injury.
The Boilermakers blew the game open with a five-run eighth inning, scoring four-plus runs in a frame for the eighth consecutive game dating back to the 2019 season finale. Evan Albrecht's two-out, two-run single punctuated the rally. The sophomore has an RBI in every game in which he has played and leads the team with 10 RBI, already doubling his 2019 total.
Jake Parr registered his first collegiate RBI with a sacrifice fly in the big inning, accounting for Purdue's 10th sac fly already this season. Nisle also delivered an RBI single and Bryce Bonner drew a bases-loaded walk.
As the middle infielders Ryan Howe and Albrecht teamed up for a key out at second base when the game was still tied. Villanova had its leadoff man reach base safely in three consecutive innings from the fourth through sixth, but did not score that runner. On a grounder to shortstop with one out in the fifth inning, Albrecht threw behind the man at second base to eliminate the go-ahead runner.
The Boilermakers are back in action Friday when they open play at the 2020 CambriaCollegeClassic in Minneapolis. They have three games vs. top-25 opponents from the Atlantic Coast Conference, starting Friday at 4 p.m. ET vs. Duke. All nine games featuring Big Ten teams vs. ACC teams will be played indoors at the Minnesota Vikings' U.S. Bank Stadium.
• Purdue's starting pitchers – Trent Johnson, Cory Brooks and Jett Jackson – teamed up for 16 innings of two-run ball, registering 11 strikeouts vs. seven hits allowed.
• The bullpen also provided some stellar long relief. Bo Hofstra, Andrew Bohm and Jackson Smeltz were responsible for a combined 8 2/3 innings of scoreless one-hit relief. They were also able to strand three inherited runners.
• The six Boilermakers that worked multiple innings were most responsible for the team's 2.00 ERA this weekend. Johnson, Brooks, Jackson, Hofstra, Bohm and Smeltz pitched 24 2/3 innings and were charged with only two runs.
• Ben Nisle once again reached base safely and scored a run as he remained the only Boilermaker to do both in every game this season. Nisle finished the weekend 6-for-14 with a team-high four runs scored, recording hit two hits in all three games. He hit safely in every game of a weekend for the seventh time as a Boilermaker.
• Skyler Hunter also hit safely in all three games, doing so in every game of a weekend for the 20th time in his career. He drew the leadoff walk that ignited the eighth-inning rally.
• Zac Fascia's seven-game hit streak came to an end, but he too has also reached base safely in every game this season after he walked in the eighth inning. He scored four times this weekend as well.
• Bryce Bonner recorded an RBI in all three games of the tournament. He has also reached base safely in all six games in which he has played this season.