Purdue Edges Illinois, 1-0, to Claim Series
April 19, 2014
West Lafayette, Ind. – The Illinois defense bounced back from a rough outing on Friday to limit Purdue to just one run on five hits, but the Illini offense was unable to take advantage, as the Boilermakers snuck past the Orange and Blue, 1-0. Neither team had a runner stand on third the entire game, but a solo home run by Ashley Burkhardt proved all the attack that the Boilermakers would need, as Purdue continued its hot start to Big Ten play, improving to 24-20-1 (11-3 Big Ten). Following the loss, Illinois drops to 18-21 (2-12 Big Ten).
Freshman Ruby Rivera continued to swing a hot bat, going 2-for-3 at the plate, while turning two key double plays at shortstop. Senior Jenna Mychko provided the Illini’s only other hit in the game, singling behind Rivera in the fifth. Allie Bauch made things happen at the top of the order, getting on base twice due to defensive errors.
Ashley Burkhardt was the hero for the Boilermakers, crushing a solo home run in the bottom of the second to give Purdue an early lead. Tori Chiodo went 2-for-3, and Danielle Fletcher and Katy McJunkin provided the remaining two hits, both singles.
Lilly Fecho (18-10) went the distance for Purdue, allowing just three hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in the complete-game shutout. Brandi Needham (13-11) showed outstanding resilience in the circle after being roughed up on Friday night, limiting Purdue to just one run on five hits and no walks while striking out two over the full six innings.
“The outstanding play and leadership of two young players on our team can’t be overlooked,” said Head Coach Terri Sullivan. “Brandi and Ruby gave us everything today, and that took guts and great maturity after yesterday. We failed to execute at critical times; we just did not generate any offense, and there isn’t a way to win if you don’t score. We need to get our bats going again and cannot wait any longer to make that happen.
“I also thought Allie was seeing the ball well today at the top of the lineup, and we will look to make that contagious.”
The Illini infield turned a pair of clutch double plays in the game to move within one of the program record after turning two 26 times on the year. The Illini rank second in the nation, averaging 0.67 per game, which is well above their previous record of 0.49 set in 2006 when Illinois turned 27 DPs over 55 games.
Purdue cracked the scoreboard in the bottom of the second, as Burkhardt drove a solo homer to right for the Boilermakers’ first hit of the game. Fletcher followed with a single to the gap in left center, but the Illini infield turned a 6-4-3 double play to clear the bases, marking their 25th DP of the season.
Illinois had a chance to score in the top of the fifth, as Rivera and Mychko led off with back-to-back singles. However, Sanchez popped up the bunt and Fecho struck out the next two batters to keep the Illini from crossing the plate.
The Boilermakers had a similar chance in the bottom half of the frame, as McJunkin hit a leadoff single on a blooper that dropped in in no-man’s live in the center of the diamond, and pinch hitter Parsons was hit by a pitch. However, a pair clutch strikeouts helped Needham get out of trouble and keep Purdue from adding any insurance.
Nevertheless, Fecho retired the Illini in order over the final two innings to seal up her sixth shutout of the season with a final score of 1-0.
Next Up: The Illini and Boilermakers close out the Big Ten series on Easter Sunday, as the pair will face off at Noon ET/11 a.m. CT on April 20.