CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Evan Albrecht drove home the game-tying run in the ninth inning and game-winning tally in the 11th as Purdue baseball won in walk-off fashion for the third time this season, defeating Michigan State 2-1 Saturday at Illinois Field.
Calvin Schapira matched his season high with seven strikeouts over eight-plus innings of three-hit ball, accounting for the longest outing by a Boilermaker since Tanner Andrews pitched a complete game on the opening day of the 2018 Big Ten Tournament. Schapira dueled MSU starter Mason Erla, who limited the Boilermakers (7-15) to four singles over eight shutout innings.
Purdue has won three times in walk-off fashion for the first time since 2017. However, this season is unique because the three walk-off wins have come in three different stadiums – March 5 at Dell Diamond in Texas, March 28 at Alexander Field in West Lafayette and now April 17 at Illinois Field in Champaign. In all three victories, Ben Nisle has scored the game-winning run and Jackson Smeltz (3-1) has been the winning pitcher in relief.
Leadoff singles by Zac Fascia in the ninth inning and Nisle in the 11th led to the Boilermakers’ runs. Albrecht registered his clutch RBI via a ground out to shortstop in the ninth and a sac fly in the 11th. On both occasions, he successfully put the ball in play with a runner at third, including with a 1-2 count in the ninth. The Spartans (11-14) had their infield at double-play depth with runners on the corners in the ninth, allowing Albrecht’s slow chopper to plate pinch runner Jack Firestone as the tying run. In the 11th with the bases loaded and the infield drawn in, Albrecht elevated the ball into right field to set off the walk-off celebration.
Tyler Powers made a diving stop at third base with two men aboard for the final out of the top of the 11th.
With Nisle in motion, Mason Gavre perfectly executed a hit and run for a base hit through the vacated right side with one out in the bottom of the frame. That led to MSU intentionally walking Mike Bolton Jr. to load the bases for Albrecht. Skyler Hunter (2-for-4, walk) and Bolton (2-for-3, walk) both reached base safely three times. Hunter posted his 70th career multi-hit game.
Nick Alvarado retired MSU’s 3-4-5 hitters to strand an inherited runner at third base in the ninth inning. The big out was a strikeout of cleanup man Zaid Walker for the second out of the frame. Alvarado struck out three of the seven batters he faced, teaming with Schapira and Smeltz for 11 strikeouts.
Over the fifth and sixth innings, six consecutive Spartans put the first pitch of their plate appearance in play. Schapira retired five of those six hitters. Schapira threw only four pitches in the fifth inning, but MSU still scored its lone run via a leadoff double from Bailey Peterson followed by a sacrifice bunt by Casey Mayes and sac fly from Zach Iverson.
Iverson moved from third base to the mound to begin the ninth inning. Purdue was glad to face anyone besides Erla. Dating back to 2019, the right-hander has worked 15 innings of two-run ball against the Boilermakers. Both runs scored on Fascia’s two-run homer in the seventh inning of Purdue’s 2-0 series-opening win vs. MSU at Alexander Field two years ago.
Schapira worked four 1-2-3 innings in a span of five frames from the third through the seventh. He retired 17 of 18 batters during that stretch, with only Peterson’s double breaking up a potentially very long streak. A wild pitch on strike three to the second batter of the second inning was the only thing that kept Schapira from setting down 12 in a row. The lefty’s lone walk was to open the ninth inning. For the season, he has registered 39 strikeouts vs. nine walks, including 14 Ks vs. one walk over his last two outings.
Purdue plays both Michigan State (1 p.m. ET) and Illinois (5 p.m. ET) Sunday in Champaign.
• Tyler Powers’ career-long and team-best 15-game reached base safely streak came to an end. But five other Boilermakers extended their streaks. Zac Fascia has now hit safely in seven straight games. Ben Nisle (11 games), Miles Simington (11), Skyler Hunter (9) and Mason Gavre (7) all kept their reached base safely streaks alive.
• Purdue won in walk-off fashion in Champaign for the second time. At the 2005 Big Ten Tournament, the Boilermakers also won on an 11th-inning walk-off.
• Saturday’s was Purdue’s first walk-off win in extra innings since defeating Penn State in 10 innings at Alexander Field in March 2019.
• The Boilermakers scored their 21st ninth-inning run of the season Saturday, easily the most of any inning.