Coming off a three-game Big Ten winning streak (which is a big deal for this Wildcats team), the ‘Cats proved that all good things must come to an end this weekend as they were swept by Purdue. There is a silver lining to the sweep though – the Wildcats continued a recent trend of offensive productivity after starting the season with cold bats. They averaged 5 runs per game over the series.
Their first loss of the weekend came on Friday in an 8-7 hitting battle. Five of Northwestern’s 7 runs in the game came from long balls between a two-run opposite field firecracker by Jack Claeys and a three-run homer from Casey O'Laughlin. Not only were the bats working, but starter Quinn Lavelle went 5.1 innings while allowing only 4 hits. The Wildcats entered the eighth inning up 7-5, but a late 3-run rally allowed the Boilermakers to secure the 8-7 win.
In game two, the Wildcats found themselves in an early hole that they couldn’t climb out of after Purdue put up the first runs of the game with a five-spot in the third inning. The Wildcats tried to claw their way back into the game, cutting the lead to two by the fifth inning, but the damage was done as Purdue answered every time Northwestern came knocking on their door. Game two continued what was a good hitting series for Jack Claeys as he recorded two base knocks over his five at bats and Northwestern continued to have some fun with the long ball as Connor Lind recorded his first home run of the season. The game ended at 9-5 in Purdue’s favor.
Game three was undoubtedly the most ugly of the series as the ‘Cats went down with not much of a fight in a 9-2 loss to close out the series. Again, Claeys was vital to Northwestern’s offensive productivity with a couple of hits and a run, but the Wildcats were never really in this one after going down 7-0 in the first two innings.
Despite the three losses, the series brings some optimism to Northwestern baseball fans as it portrayed that Northwestern can play with the best of ‘em in the Big Ten. The three wins launched Purdue to third place in the Big Ten while making the battle for the cellar much more interesting, as Penn State recorded two wins against Michigan State this weekend to put Northwestern just one game out of last place.