Baseball: Wildcats win first conference series in sweep of Purdue


Daily file photo by Max Gelman

Tommy Bordignon releases the ball. The sophomore started Sunday’s series finale and threw 5.1 innings of shutout ball.

Cole Paxton, Reporter


It was a weekend of milestones for Northwestern, much to the Wildcats’ delight.

NU (13-34, 5-16 Big Ten) earned its first home conference win of the season Friday in the 200th all-time meeting between the Cats and Purdue (7-37, 2-19). The team then won its first Big Ten series with Saturday’s win and built a 3-game winning streak for the first time all year with Sunday’s victory.

“It’s been a while,” junior outfielder Jake Schieber said of the sweep, NU’s first in Big Ten play since 2007. “It feels incredible. The season hasn’t gone the way we planned it exactly, but it’s good to see that we can still come out here and compete and we’re not giving up or anything like that.”

Though NU scored 7 runs in each of the series’ first two games, a pair of starting pitchers were critical to the Cats’ success. Senior Reed Mason recorded a season-high seven strikeouts and allowed just 2 runs over 7 innings in Friday’s 7-3 win, and sophomore Tommy Bordignon threw 5.1 shutout frames Sunday in a 3-0 win.

In the absence of a dominant starting pitching performance Saturday, NU relied on a parade of bullpen arms and a clear defensive edge. Junior Joe Schindler started and went just 4.1 innings, but five relievers combined to allow just 1 run in the Cats’ 7-4 win.

With Saturday’s game tied 4-4 in the eighth, the Cats took advantage of three Purdue errors in the inning to score 3 unearned runs and break the game open.

NU’s defense, on the other hand, made a potentially game-saving play in the eighth inning Sunday. With the bases loaded and nobody out in a 2-0 game, Schieber caught a sinking line drive in center and fired the ball to the plate to complete a double play as the baserunner tagged up.

“That’s been one thing that’s been consistent,” coach Spencer Allen said of the defense. “But then to go make a play up and above throwing a guy out like that was huge. It was really, really huge. That kept the momentum on our side.”

After being swept in consecutive series by Minnesota and Indiana — the 3rd and 1st place teams in the Big Ten respectively — NU took advantage of its series with conference doormat Purdue. The two teams entered the weekend tied for last place in the conference with matching 2-16 league records, and the Cats and Boilermakers are the only Big Ten teams with overall records more than one game below .500.

As the regular season winds down, however, the wins have contributed to a more positive environment around the team despite the lowly opposition.

“You get a win, everyone’s pumped up,” Bordignon said. “Our guys are playing a lot more loose. The atmosphere is a lot more loose; everyone’s happy, going out there and having fun.”

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