Baseball: Top-20 talent too much for Northwestern

Steven Montero

Northwestern could not keep up with the top-20 talent Purdue brought to Evanston over the weekend.

The No. 19 Boilermakers controlled the pace of the series, dishing the Wildcats three consecutive losses at home, including a 7-0 defeat on Friday.

“They did a good job of keeping us off balance all weekend,” coach Paul Stevens said. “I’ve got to take my hat off to their pitching. They swung the bats when they had to, and everything was the way it should be. They played hard, and we just could never get anything going.”

Purdue out-hit NU in every game , posting double-digit numbers each day including a 12-2 margin Friday. The Boilermakers’ pitching staff also struck out 19 Cats over the three-day contest, while Purdue has the lowest number of strikeouts in the Big Ten this season, with 148.

Stevens said his pitching staff looked tired Sunday and through the entire weekend.

“There are some things that we can attack, and I think that’s the part of it that we need to start working on a bit more – not from a pitching standpoint – but from a hitting standpoint and fielding standpoint,” he said. “It’s a team effort. It’s not one area or another area. It’s a combined group effort.”

Senior catcher Geoff Rowan said it was a tough series, but the team can learn from it.

Rowan contributed one of the two NU hits on Friday, three more hits throughout the weekend and added two runs and two RBIs. He said NU didn’t take enough advantage of opportunities to score. Purdue did.

“Every time they threw, every pitch had a purpose,” Rowan said. “If they went outside on you one time, they were coming back in. If they went curveball, they were coming back with something else. They were very smart pitchers and they got the best of us.”

NU errors lit up the scoreboard all weekend long. Despite only suffering two errors in their three-game set against the Cornhuskers a week prior, the Cats accumulated four errors against the Boilermakers, which cost them dearly.

“I don’t think anybody ever tries to make errors,” Stevens said, “but the point of it all is when you find a way to do that, you’ve got to find a way to pick one of your teammates up and (we) definitely didn’t do a job of finding a way to help each other out. It seemed like when we scored, they would come back and score. (Sunday) the three errors on the board definitely hurt us in that one inning.”

Junior pitcher Luke Farrell epitomized the struggles of the Cats’ pitching staff over the weekend against the Boilermakers’ dangerous lineup. Farrell said he had trouble throwing strikes and settling into the zone for the first couple of innings, but he eventually found his rhythm and started getting outs. He had three strikeouts, walked four batters and surrendered seven hits in three innings of work.

“We didn’t perform well,” Farrell said. “We got swept. There’s no secret about that. We need to tighten up a lot of things: defense, pitching, we need to throw more strikes. Then at the plate we need to string things together and get that big hit that provides more runs.”

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