If Purdue is going to have any chance of making the NCAA Tournament without winning the Big Ten Tournament later in the season, the next two weeks of the baseball season are critical. Purdue travels to Nashville this weekend to face Lipscomb (6-3) for three games before facing a ranked Louisville team on Tuesday. They then face Tennessee-Martin (2-6) for three games, #2 Vanderbilt, Belmont, and three against Tennessee Tech (3-6). Purdue is one of just four Big Ten teams with an early winning record to start the season, so if they can keep things up they will be in a decent position for an at large bid.
Purdue had a good weekend last week, taking three of four from Morehead State. The lone loss can be hung on the bullpen, as it gave up a two run lead in the bottom of the ninth before Purdue lost 10-9 in 11 innings of game 2. The series was enough for Angelo Cianfrocco to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors. He went 10-for-16 with four extra-base hits, five RBIs and eight runs scored for the series.
Cianfrocco is one of four Boilermakers hitting better than .400 on the season. Purdue has scored at least nine runs in five of its first seven games in the 5-2 start to the year. Barrett Serrato and David Miller are each hitting better than .571 on the season. Cianfrocco and Cameron Perkins each have two home runs so far, while Perkins leads the team with 11 RBIs. Purdue has been a den of thieves as well with 15 stolen bases on 20 attempts so far.
On the mound Brad Schreiber is 2-0 with a solid 2.25 ERA in 12 innings pitched over two starts. Matt Morgan has assumed the staff ace role, going 1-0 in two starts with a 1.86 ERA in nine and two thirds innings. Out of the bullpen Nick Wittgren and Lance Breedlove each have a save. Currently Blake Mascarello is serving as the Sunday starter, but he has struggled with a 9.0 ERA and 0-1 record. Joe Haase has also started a game and is 1-0 in three appearances. Overall the team ERA doesn't look too good, but that is because the 19-2 loss to Notre Dame is skewing things with only six other games played. Most of that was the fault of the bullpen as well.
Lipscomb is a solid program in the warmer weather Atlantic Sun Conference. They made the NCAA Tournament in 2008 and even stole a game against regional host Georgia before bowing out. They are led on the mound by Connor Sinclair, who is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in two starts. Dannie Strable is 2-0 in a pair of starts with a 2.77 ERA. They have a solid team ERA of 3.28, so it will be their good pitching against our good hitting. At the plate Richie Goodenow is batting .429 to lead them, but as a team they are just .262 with five home runs.
This is a decent team that has played a relatively weak schedule so far. They took two of three against Marshall last week, while beating Bradley twice, and Western Kentucky and Dayton once. Dayton, Middle Tennessee State, and Marshall have handed them their losses. Purdue's goal should be to win the series against a team that has a chance of making the NCAAs.