This weekend marks the first weekend of conference play for the Boilermakers and B1G in general. After 5 weekends of a tough non-conference schedule, the Boilermakers will finally have a chance to show the Big Ten what they’re all about.
Tuesday and Wednesday the team had full practices with wonderful 80-degree and sunny weather. Monday was the usual off day to catch up on classes, homework, and any sleep lost on the 13-hour bus ride back from Wichita, Kansas on Sunday.
Ohio State comes in with a 11-8 record, losing to No. 22 Louisville 20-0 on Tuesday, and winning 11-7 at Dayton on Wednesday. The Boilermakers will face Louisville on March 27th, their first game of the year at Lambert Field.
OSU has played extra innings in 3 of their last 6 games, so if Purdue can take advantage of them early and often, they should do well in the series.
Purdue’s rotation will feature the usual weekend Senior trio of Joe Haase (2-0, 4.97 ERA) on Friday, Lance Breedlove (2-2 4.18 ERA) on Saturday, and Calvin Gunter (2-0 4.24 ERA) on Sunday. The Buckeyes will counter with Jaron Long, (0-0 2.15 ERA) Brian King, (2-1 5.30 ERA) and Greg Greve (0-2 7.89 ERA).
The Buckeyes have struggled to find consistency outside of pitcher Jaron Long and P/1B Josh Desze (one of the top prospects in the league). Desze is leading the team with a .343 average and .483 OBP. He has 5 homeruns on the year already with 13 RBI, but strikes out in nearly 30% of his at-bats. Compare that to Junior catcher Kevin Plawecki, who has struck out just once in 64 at-bats (1.5%). Eight Boilermaker batters are hitting above Desze’s average, and five have as many or more RBI.
Unfortunately no Purdue pitchers or position players were named B1G players of the week, marking the first time in 5 weekends that no Boilermaker has won the honor. Junior Stephen Talbott and Senior Eric Charles have each been named B1G player of the week once, while Senior Lance Breedlove and Junior Nick Wittgren have earned B1G pitcher of the week honors one time each.
The Boilermakers should be able come out strong and ready to play, using the 2 losses against Wichita State as motivation to sweep the Buckeyes.
I am a Junior student manager at Purdue and will be chronicling stories of Boiler baseball throughout the entire season as I travel with them. There will be game previews and recaps for each weekend, as well as some "behind the scenes" stuff.
Follow me on twitter @Banski913