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Gold and Black Illustrated Volume 28, Digital 5

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Page 53 of 60

GOLD AND BLACK ILLUSTRATED VOLUME 28, ISSUE 5 54 Finding The Power McGowan hits right mix BY KYLE CHARTERS J acson McGowan isn't seeing many quality pitch- es during the Big Ten season. There's a good reason for that, considering the first baseman's blistering start; so when a pitch- er makes a mistake, he has to take advantage. One such chance was the April 6 series opener at Indi- ana, when ace Jonathan Stiever fired a fastball — McGowan hadn't seen many hittable ones during the Big Ten — on the outer half of the plate in the fourth inning. Finally, McGowan could put aside his patience, a trait he's been pressed to work on of late. He reached out and blasted it into right field, sending it over the fence in Bloomington for his ninth home run of the season. The total, which came in only the first 26 games of a 50-plus game season, puts the junior on pace to finish in the top-five all-time in Boilermaker annals. He could challenge for the all-time high of 21, set by Brett Roach in 1987, although that would take a big second half of the Big Ten. Still, it's been a good start. "I saw a lot of fastballs (early this season), people trying to challenge me," McGowan said in mid-April. "But ever since the home run total has gone up and the RBI total has gone up, it's been more off-speed and extended (outside) fastballs, nothing really over the plate to get hold of or anything like that. But that's what you expect, it makes you a better hitter. You have to sit back and wait for the pitch. If they make a mistake, you've got to hit it." To say McGowan has been important to the Boil- ermakers' success this season — Purdue was 16-15 through the first 31 games — is an understatement. In fact, McGowan might be the most critical player to his team than any other in the Big Ten. The Boilermakers are 9-0 in games he's homered and 15-5 in games he has at least an RBI (and only 1-10 in games he does not). Not only that, but through the first 31 games, his 38 RBI represent an astounding 27.5 percent of Pur- due's total. By comparison, Michigan and Minnesota,

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