In the first matchup with Ohio State, the momentum seemed to favor Purdue heading into Friday night’s game.
The road team had won the last eight series between the two teams, a trend that goes back to 2007. Purdue came in on a 13-game win streak and hadn’t lost to a Big Ten team since April 14.
Yet, after a first inning with two balks and two free passes, the Buckeyes (32-16, 12-7 Big Ten) overcame the odds to defeat the Boilermakers (29-17, 13-5 Big Ten) 4-2 to begin Ohio State’s last home series of the season.
“I’m really proud of our seniors and how they have just grasped this idea of help team win whatever it takes, their numbers are out the door, let’s just go play baseball,” head coach Greg Beals said. “When you play like that, man there’s a freedom in that, you’re just playing for your team and you’re playing to win a game.”
The victory was Beals’ 500th collegiate coaching career win, and senior pitcher Seth Kinker’s three-inning save gave him his 103rd Ohio State appearance, the most by any pitcher in Buckeye history.
“For me, it was just another appearance,” Kinker said. “Is it something that I have worked hard for? Yes. Has it been in the back of my mind? Of course, but just getting that win, breaking that streak for Purdue.”
Junior starting pitcher Connor Curlis went six innings and allowed one earned run on three hits and four walks. .
“It was a workman’s type outing today,” Beals said. “I mean you look at his line, it looks really good, but you see the four walks in there and it tells you that he didn’t have his absolute command, but he worked his way through it for a quality start.”
However, Curlis had some issues with runners on base. The left-handed pitcher recorded three balks in the first three innings of the game. Prior to the game, Curlis had one career balk in 135.1 innings pitched during his collegiate career.
After falling behind 1-0 in the second inning on a single by Purdue senior right fielder Alec Olund, Ohio State quickly came back with two runs in the same inning. Senior first baseman Bo Coolen tied the game with an RBI single, then sophomore shortstop Noah West followed it up with a sacrifice bunt to give the Buckeyes an early 2-1 lead.
Ohio State loaded the bases in the fifth inning, capitalizing with two runs with an RBI single by senior left fielder Tyler Cowles and a walk by junior catcher Jacob Barnwell to take a 4-1 lead over the Boilermakers.
Cowles went 2-for-4 with an RBI in the game. Barnwell reached base three times, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks .
The Boilermakers shortened the gap to two on an RBI groundout by freshman left fielder Ben Nisle in the eighth inning, but Kinker closed the door to put Ohio State two games behind Purdue in the Big Ten standings.
“Give them credit, they’re obviously playing tough,” Beals said. “Thirteen-win streak coming in here, and we were able to snap that tonight, and we played a really good ballgame tonight.”
Game 2 of the series between Ohio State and Purdue starts at 3:05 p.m. Saturday at Bill Davis Stadium.