A six-run fourth inning by Nebraska baseball was enough for the Huskers to complete the series sweep in a 9-5 victory over Purdue on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon at Hawks Field.
Nebraska improved to 17-9 and 7-2 in the Big Ten while Purdue dropped to 10-20 and 4-4 in conference play.
After being outscored 30-4 in the previous two matchups, the Boilermakers came out swinging with a lead-off triple by junior outfielder Skylar Hunter in the first inning. Junior catcher Bryce Bonner would bring in Hunter on a double, but senior Reece Eddins got out of the inning avoiding anymore damage.
Aaron Palensky got the scoring started for the Huskers in the bottom of the first with his first home run of the season to give the Huskers a 2-1 lead after the first. Palensky went 4-5 on the day with three RBIs.
Purdue tied things up in third inning, as Bonner grounded out but was able to bring home a run.
Then, Purdue freshman second baseman Ryan Howe hit his first home run of the year to left field to give the Boilermakers a 3-2 lead heading into the bottom of the fourth.
The lead would not last long for Purdue, as senior Angelo Altavilla and sophomore Jaxon Hallmark each singled to reach base and senior Alex Henwood was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Sophomore Carter Cross was next up and hit a hard ground ball to Purdue shortstop Evan Albrecht. Albrecht made an errant throw which ended up in right field, allowing three Huskers to score while Cross advanced to third.
Palensky brought home Cross on a single later in the inning. Keegan Watson and Joe Roskam continued the inning with an RBI each to give the Huskers an 8-3 lead after four innings.
“They smelled blood in the water,” head coach Darin Erstad said of the fourth-inning rally. “We were battling back and forth and all of a sudden, they make a mistake and we got to jump on it, and that is exactly what we did.”
Purdue strung together consecutive hits to open the fifth inning but only pushed one run across off a wild pitch by Eddins.
Henwood responded with his first home run of the year in the bottom of the fifth inning to pad Nebraska’s lead.
Junior Zac Fascia cut Nebraska’s lead to 9-5 on a solo home run to right field that left the ballpark, but freshmen Shay Schanaman and Colby Gomes closed the door on the Boilermakers, not allowing a hit in the final three innings.
Eddins was credited with the win to improve to 2-2 on the year. He went five innings and gave up three earned runs on six hits.
Roskam and Henwood each recorded two hits and one RBI for the Huskers who recorded 11 hits on the day.
“We got a win. If you can get three wins a weekend during conference play, you’ll take that,” Erstad said. “You have to find different ways to win and today we did that.”
Nebraska will try to continue its perfect home record against in-state rival Creighton on Tuesday night.
“We just need to play our game,” Erstad said. “They are solid program. They play good defense. They are swinging the bats. They are doing a nice job. You know what you are going to get out of Coach Servais’ team.”
First pitch is set for 6:35 p.m. at Hawks Field.