A three-RBI double from Joe Hoscheit set the tone for Northwestern (18-26, 7-9 Big Ten) on Friday night. The Wildcats batted around in the first inning and didn’t look back, earning a 7-2 win over Purdue (25-19, 9-7 Big Ten) to open a three-game set in West Lafayette.
With the win and a Michigan State loss to Iowa, the Wildcats pulled into a tie with the Spartans for the eighth and final spot in the race for the Big Ten Tournament.
Hoscheit doubled twice in five at-bats to raise his season average to a team-leading .313, while Leo Kaplan went 3-for-4 with an RBI single. Northwestern jumped on Purdue’s Tanner Andrews right away, as a leadoff single for Alex Erro and Jack Dunn walk set up a big inning. Erro would score on Hoscheit’s drive to the right field wall and Dun crossed the plate on Matt Hopfner’s groundout.
Jack Claeys followed with a single to make it 3-0, and two batters later, Jake Schieber singled to push Claeys across and cap off the inning for Northwestern.
Cooper Wetherbee came out strong in the bottom of the first, striking out the first two hitters he faced en route to a shutdown inning. The lefty struggled with control issues over his six innings of work, walking five, but earned the win by allowing only two runs. In the third, two walks, a wild pitch, and a passed ball contributed to two Purdue runs, but Wetherbee finished strong, retiring seven of the final eight batters he faced.
Northwestern added a run in the third with a well-executed safety squeeze by Connor Lind and did the same in the eighth to put the game away. Claeys walked and lifted for pinch-runner Ben Dickey, who stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error. Kaplan doubled him home, leading head coach Spencer Allen to play small ball, calling for consecutive sacrifice bunts to advance Kaplan to third and then home.
Pete Hofman twirled three scoreless innings to earn his second save of the season, allowing only two baserunners and striking out three.
Hank Christie will get the ball Saturday in game two against Purdue’s Gareth Stroh. The Boilermakers saw their seven-game winning streak snapped and will look to start a new one at 5:00 pm CST at Alexander Field.