Purdue wins first Big Ten title
Boilermakers will make first NCAA tourney appearance since ‘87
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Andrew Dixon scored the tie-breaking run on a wild play in the ninth inning and Nick Wittgren closed the game out with a 1-2-3 bottom of the frame, as Purdue won its first Big Ten Tournament title with a 6-5 win against Indiana Saturday evening at Huntington Park.
The Boilermakers (44-12) earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Kevin Plawecki hit his second home run of the tournament in the eighth inning to give Purdue a 5-4 lead. He was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player after finishing the event 4-for-9 with five RBI. He's the third consecutive catcher to win the award and the first position player to be the Big Ten Player of the Year and Tournament MOP since Minnesota's Jack Hannahan in 2001.
Lance Breedlove, David Miller, Cameron Perkins and Barrett Serrato also represented Purdue on the All-Tournament Team. Serrato was a team-best 6-for-12 in the three games. Seven different Boilers recorded an RBI in the tournament.
Miller and Dixon both reached on infield singles in the top of the ninth inning. With runners on the corners and one out, Eric Charles hit a chopper to third base. Indiana got Miller in a run down between third and home. Miller kept the rundown alive long enough to give Dixon the opportunity to try to advance to third base. After Miller was tagged out, IU third baseman Dustin DeMuth turned around and tried to throw out Dixon at third. The ball glanced off the glove of shortstop Michael Basil and rolled down the left field line toward the bullpen. Dixon was able to get to his feet and easily score the go-ahead run.
Meanwhile, Charles tried to take third on the play. The throw beat him to the bag and Charles tried to slide through Basil, who took the throw standing in the base line instead of straddling the bag on a traditional play at third. A melee ensued after Charles and Basil collided as the out was recorded. Both dugouts eventually emptied. Charles was ejected for a flagrant slide.
After a lengthy delay as the umpires sorted out the fracas, Wittgren (3-0) returned to the mound with Indiana's 8-9-1 due up. He struck out the first two batters and got Justin Cureton to fly out to Dixon in center field to end the game.
Purdue is the third consecutive Big Ten team, and ninth dating back to 1993, to win both the Big Ten regular-season and tournament titles in the same year. May 12, the Boilers won their first Big Ten regular-season title since 1909. Purdue will be making its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1987.
Miller and Serrato both finished with three hits. Miller's hits to right field in the second and fifth innings plated the Boilers' first two runs of the game. Serrato had doubled to right center to begin the second and scored on Miller's two-out line drive off the wall in right. Ryan Bridges drew a walk to begin the fifth and scored on Miller's chopper down the right field line after Will Nolden did not field it cleanly.
Including Plawecki's home run, Purdue had its leadoff man reach base safely five times. That runner scored four times, all but the ninth.
Purdue took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the fifth after a sac fly to center field from Dixon plated Miller in the top of the frame. Indiana (32-28) finally got to starter Robert Ramer with two outs in the fifth, stringing together three straight two-out hits, scoring twice. Ramer worked five innings of two-run ball in his first start of the year against a Big Ten opponent.
A leadoff walk to Plawecki led to another Purdue run in the sixth. After a perfectly executed hit-and-run single by Serrato on the first pitch thrown by IU reliever Jonny Hoffman (8-2), the Boilers had runners on the corners with no outs. Angelo Cianfrocco hit a ground ball to first base and Plawecki beat Sam Travis' throw to the plate, sliding in safely head first.
Back-to-back errors by Purdue helped Indiana tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Blake Mascarello took over on the mound to begin the frame and induced consecutive ground balls. But Perkins was unable to field the first chopper and Mascarello threw the ball into center field after fielding a comebacker. Instead of a potential 1-6-3 double play, Indiana had runners on the corners with no outs. Micah Johnson followed with an opposite-field double down the left field line.
Mascarello got a big strikeout versus Dillon Dooney for the first out of the frame. Charles made a nice running catch in foul territory along the fence line in right field for the second out. But the Purdue second baseman had no chance to throw out Travis at the plate, as the freshman tagged up and scored.
Both teams went quietly in the seventh. Travis' leadoff double helped Indiana tie the game in bottom of the eighth. Basil delivered the game-tying sac fly to left field after Wittgren had entered the game.
Stephen Talbott executed sacrifice bunts in the fifth and ninth innings. Purdue went on to score in both innings.
The Boilermakers' two errors in the sixth inning were their only defensive miscues of the tournament. In the middle infield, Charles and Miller handled a combined 33 defensive chances cleanly.
Purdue's three starting pitchers -- Joe Haase, Breedlove and Ramer -- combined for 20 1/3 innings of five-run ball. They surrendered only 16 hits while issuing just two walks.
Purdue submitted a bid to host a NCAA Regional at U.S. Steel Yard ballpark in Gary, Ind., the home of the Gary Southshore RailCats, an independent professional team of the American Association.