EVANSTON -- In a matchup between the two teams in the Big Ten baseball cellar, the Northwestern Wildcats, thanks to some early scoring, cruised past the Purdue Boilermakers 7-3 on Friday afternoon at Rocky and Berenice Miller Park.
The Wildcats (11-34 overall, 3-16 Big Ten) -- who hadn't won a game since April 19 against Chicago State -- scored three runs apiece in the 1st and 2nd innings off Purdue starter Gavin Downs, who didn't make it past 1.2 innings. Northwestern starter Reed Mason gave up runs in the top of the 1st and 3rd but settled down after a solo home run by Kyle Wood made it 6-2 in favor of the Wildcats.
Purdue (7-35, 2-17) had no problems getting on base against Mason but struggled to get hits with runners in scoring position. The Boilermakers left six men on base in the first five innings alone -- and eight overall.
Mason's 1st inning run came on a breaking ball in the dirt that got away from catcher Mat Jones and scored Alec Olund from third base. Then, in the bottom of the frame, Northwestern capitalized on a bases loaded chance as a Willie Bourbon walk drove in a run before Jake Schieber knocked in two with a line drive single. In the next inning, a Zach Jones double scored Jack Dunn from first before a Joe Hoscheit home run to left (his seventh of the season), made the score 6-2 in favor of the home team.
Prior to today's offensive outburst, the Wildcats had scored six runs just once since the Chicago State victory. As Purdue is the weakest nonconference opponent Northwestern has faced all season, the bats getting going was a sight for sore eyes. But, the home team wasn't able to put much together against the Boilermakers' bullpen as Northwestern cobbled together just one run in its final six half-innings at the plate.
That didn't matter, though, as Reed Mason continued his strong senior season with another gem. The California native held Purdue to eight hits and two runs (one earned) in his 7 innings as he posted his fifth quality start of conference play (in seven starts). With the Joe Schindler suspension robbing the Wildcats of their Opening Day starter for much of the year, Mason has filled in admirably.
But, his replacement out of the bullpen -- Jake Stolley -- struggled in the 8th, allowing a leadoff single to Wood, who scored the next at-bat on a Nick Dalesandro triple in the right field gap which cut the NU lead to 7-3. Stolley struck out the next batter -- Jacson McGowan -- before coaxing a popout from James Jewell and flyout from Cody Strong to end the rally.
Stolley pitched a scoreless 9th inning to shut the door on the Boilermakers and notch the Wildcats' first win in conference at the new Rocky and Berenice Miller Park.
These teams will do it again tomorrow afternoon at R+B Miller Park at 2:00 pm CST as the Wildcats look to build their first winning streak since mid-April.
What they said -- Reed Mason: "It's great to be back in the win column. We got swept by three runs down in Indiana...I've been pitching in some really close games so it's nice to know you can get away with something if you fail to execute a pitch [because of the six runs Northwestern scored in the first 2 innings."
Spencer Allen: "It was just good to play a complete game...We had two big hits, Hoscheit's homer and Schieber's two-run single, that's something that's just huge for us...Reed Mason has been a champ, he probably should have six or seven wins."
Jake Stolley: "We had a big lead so I was just attacking, got a fastball up [in the 8th]. It didn't get to me, wasn't a big deal because we had a four-run lead at that point."