May 26, 2012

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Around the Tournaments: Saturday recaps


Purdue battles past Indiana to win first Big Ten title

By Phil Stanton Co-Founder



(The original story stated Eric Charles slid into Dustin DeMuth at third base in the ninth. After looking at the replay, Charles slid into Michael Basil. That correction has been made.)


COLUMBUS, Ohio – It was an intense ending to a terrific tournament.


Top-seeded Purdue scored the game-winning run on an errant throw in the top of the ninth to edge second-seeded Indiana 6-5 in the Championship Game of the Big Ten Tournament. It was the first Big Ten tourney title in program history.


“That was another exciting college baseball game with a lot of action, timely hits, key pitches, key plays on defense,” said Purdue head coach Doug Schreiber. “It wasn’t without some mistakes on our part. They made some mistakes as well to allow us that opportunity, especially that last run. What happened at the end of the game shouldn’t take away from what those kids did on the field. I was very proud of our guys, the resiliency that they showed.”


Both benches emptied following the play, an ugly ending to a spectacular week of action.


With the score tied at 5, David Miller led off the top of the ninth with an infield single for the Boilermakers (44-12) and was sacrificed to second by Stephen Talbott. Andrew Dixon also reached on an infield hit, sending Miller to third.


Eric Charles hit a chopper to third baseman Dustin DeMuth. Miller broke from third on contact and was caught in a rundown. DeMuth threw to catcher Kyle Schwarber and Miller headed back toward third. Schwarber threw back to DeMuth, who ran Miller toward home before tagging him out. Dixon was hustling to get to third. After DeMuth tagged Miller, he threw high to third in an attempt to get Dixon, who scrambled to his feet and raced home with the go-ahead run.


Charles broke for third and slid hard into Michael Basil covering the bag. They became entangled and appeared to start wrestling. Both benches emptied as the umpires tried to restore order.


“First and third with one out, we want to stay out of the double play,” Schreiber said. “It was a chopper, maybe not a true double play ball. Miller had to release, stayed in the rundown long enough. DeMuth did a good job of running him down, and turning and throwing. Maybe a great throw would have gotten Dixon on a close play. It was a tough play. He’s running toward home and making a tag and had to turn and throw to third. The ball got away and Dixon was able to score.


“Charles probably didn’t need to try to come to third but he’s being aggressive, he’s playing aggressive baseball. I thought once the throw was there he did slide hard, no doubt about it. I don’t think it was dirty in any way. I think he was tying to slide through the guy. I don’t thing the guy was straddling the base. Their fielder was in front of the base and Charles was trying to go through him. The third baseman took it. I thought if it would have been left there it would have been fine. Guys started coming from every angle.


“I grabbed Charles and kept him from doing anything else. I could have easily grabbed DeMuth off Charles but that’s not my job to grab their player. So I waited and I grabbed Charles. I’ve got Charles and he’s defenseless. Probably the best thing was in the melee we got knocked to the ground. I could cover him up and keep him from getting kicked and punched. You don’t want to see that in any ballgame but those things sometime happen. I thought the umpires did a good job of clearing it and figuring out what they needed to do. Kudos to the umpires on how they handled it.”


After a lengthy delay, Charles was ejected for a flagrant slide and DeMuth was ejected for fighting.


“There was a lot of testosterone flowing out there,” said IU head coach Tracy Smith, “young whippersnappers wanting to buck up. You realize that you are dealing 18, 19, 20-year-old kids that don’t have a lot of perspective. It was an unfortunate event. Our message was, regardless of the outcome of this, regardless of Purdue and Indiana, to me, that was not good for our conference. How it started, how it happened in the middle, and how it finished I think was a big-time black eye for our conference. I’ll be very very curious to see the tape. So I’m going to reserve any comments on that. From what I gather right now it’s not pretty, so I’m embarrassed for our conference. I felt it was important that win, lose or draw, Indiana University was going to shake hands at the end of the game because that’s much more important than a baseball game.


“Once that tape comes out, I honestly think there are going to be more penalties based on looks on clubhouse TV, and it wasn’t pretty. [The umpires] had to go on what they saw right away. They ejected the guy who made the initial slide. They ejected Dustin DeMuth for a headlock. I want to see it and if I have to do some teaching and learn some lessons with our guys too as we move forward we’ll do that.”


Closer Nick Wittgren (3-0), who got the final two outs in the eighth, got two strikeouts and a flyout in the ninth to end the contest.


“No regrets is really what comes to my mind in terms of what kind of effort our guys gave today,” Smith said. “On a hot day playing a good Michigan State team, going extra innings, finding a way through a lot of adversity through that, battling through some things. In the Purdue game, I would like to have seen a more dramatic way to score a run than of us throwing it away in that type of ballgame. But it was an aggressive play. I have no regrets, and I think our team has no regrets, in talking about laying everything on the line and walking away feeling pretty good about yourself. It’s tough to swallow the loss no doubt but I think the guys will feel pretty good about themselves that they gave everything they had in both games.”


Purdue got on the board in the top of the second. Barrett Serrato had a leadoff double to right center and remained their following a groundout and a strikeout. Miller ripped a long single off the wall in right to plate Serrato and give the Boilermakers a 1-0 lead.


The Boilermakers added to their lead in the fifth. Ryan Bridges drew a leadoff walk to start the inning. After showing bunt on the first pitch, Miller bounced a hit-and-run single over the first baseman’s head. The right fielder bobbled the ball, allowing Bridges to score and Miller to take second. Stephen Talbott bunted Miller to third and a deep sacrifice fly to center by Andrew Dixon brought home Miller with the third run.


The Hoosiers used a two-out rally to get on the scoreboard. Will Nolden had a two-out double to right and scored on a base hit by Tim O’Conner. Justin Cureton followed with a double to left to plate O’Conner and make it a 3-2 game.


Purdue tacked on a run in the top of the sixth as Kevin Plawecki started the inning with a walk, moved to third on a hit-and-run single by Serrato and scored on a grounder to first by Angelo Cianfrocco to push the lead to 4-2.


Indiana took advantage of Purdue’s first two errors of the tournament to tie the game in the bottom of the sixth. Schwarber reached on an error by the third baseman. Sam Travis hit a potential double play ball back to the mound, but the throw was not handled at second, giving the Hoosiers runners on the corners. Micah Johnson doubled to right to bring home Schwarber and move Travis to third. Michael Basil hit a high foul pop down the right field line that was caught by the second baseman. His throw to the plate was late as Travis scored the tying run.


Plawecki homered in the top of the eighth to put the Boilermakers on top 5-4. It was his second home run of the tournament.


The Hoosiers responded again in the bottom of the eighth. Travis had a leadoff double and moved to third on a fielder’s choice. Pinch-runner Chris Sujka replaced Travis on third and he scored on a sacrifice fly by Basil to knot the score at 5.


2012 Big Ten All-Tournament Team

P Jonny Hoffman, Indiana

P Tony Bucciferro, Michigan State

P Lance Breedlove, Purdue

C Kevin Plawecki, Purdue (right)

1B Ryan Krill, Michigan State

1B Richard Stock, Michigan State

2B Micah Johnson, Indiana

3B Cameron Perkins, Purdue

SS David Miller, Purdue

SS Kirby Pellant, Ohio State

OF Will Nolden, Indiana

OF Anthony Cheky, Michigan State

OF Barrett Serrato, Purdue

DH Michael Pritchard, Nebraska


Most Outstanding Player: Kevin Plawecki, Purdue


(photos courtesy of Purdue Media Relations Office)