Purdue Baseball-Rice Owls

Rice's Reckling Park in Houston

Purdue travels to Houston to take on the ranked Owls in a three game series.

Next up on Purdue's slate is the Owls of Rice University in Houston, TX.

Rice's baseball program is in a league of its own. Since Wayne Graham took over as Head Coach in 1992 he has won 9 WAC Conference Championships (1997-2005), 7 C-USA Conference Championships (2006-2008, 2010-2013), 1 SWC Conference Tournament Championship (1996), 3 WAC Conference Tournament Championships (1997-1999), 5 C-USA Conference Tournament Championships (2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013), 19 NCAA Tournament Appearances (1995-2013), 7 College World Series Appearances (1997, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2006-2008) and 1 National Championship in 2003. Wane Graham also just won his 1000th game with the program this past Tuesday.

The team is currently ranked 11, 15, 15 and 17 in the NCBWA, USA Today Coaches' Poll, Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball, respectively. They opened their season in California against Stanford where they took two of three, outscoring them 18-16. They played two mid-week games against Texas State which took them into 11 innings and they pulled out the win for Graham's 1000th win. They lost yesterday to Houston 3-0, making their recorded 3-2 overall.

Rice will have the upper hand on us this weekend due to the nice weather that they have had and being able to practice outside. With two extra games under their belt in the past week, it could prove to help our Boilers due to them being tired and low on throwing arms.

Projected pitching starters:

  • Patrick Kenney (0-0) vs Jordan Stephens (1-0)
  • Jordan Minch (0-1) vs Blake Fox (1-0)
  • TBA vs Kevin McCanna (0-1)

Their starting pitchers went deep into games compared to ours from this past weekend. Stephens gave up 3 runs on 5 hits through 5 innings of play. Fox didn't give up a run on 2 hits and 2 walks through 6 innings on the bump. McCanna, however, gave up 4 runs on 6 hits including a walk and a balk (something our pitchers should be familiar with after this past weekend) through 4.2 innings.

Rice featured 9 different pitchers on the mound during its three game series in California; Purdue featured 14 different pitchers, two of them having two appearances. In the two wins by Rice they only limited to calling on their bullpen once.

Game by the numbers

Purdue

Rice

Hitting

3 games

5 games

At Bats

87

145

Hits

15

40

Batting Avg.

0.172

0.276

Slg %

0.23

0.428

RBI

4

20

On Base %

0.287

0.369

Errors

1

3

Pitching

ERA

11.62

4.14

Hits given up

40

32

Opp Batting Avg.

0.388

0.235

Strike Outs

11

40

I think we will do well if we escape Houston with one win. Our Boilers need to jump on them early and take Rice deep into the bullpen. If we do this we will work our way down to their less experienced guys. Patrick Kenney is making his first start on Friday as a Boilermaker. Kenney has not started since his Junior year in high school. The coaching staff believes that he will perform better with a clean slate and not having any runners on to start the game. Kenney is one of the harder throwers on this years squad and looks to pick up his first win as a starter. Podkul, who is coming off Tommy John Surgery, started Monday's game against Tennessee is not penciled in to start a game this weekend. Although Sunday's game is still up in the air for who will be starting, it is looking like Coach Schreiber will be handing the ball to redshirt sophomore Kyle Wood. Gavin Downs made a good impression in his first appearance of the 2014 season last weekend at Tennessee, he will be coming out of the bullpen again for those times when the starting pitcher gets into trouble. Downs excels at throwing 4 to 5 innings in the middle of the game and making the opposing team look like fools.

Hitting will need to be picked up this weekend if the Boilers want to pull a win or two out. They started out slow last weekend but finished Monday's game with more hits then Tennessee but the free bases due to walks and balks helped the Vols pull out the sweep against the Boilers. The hitters need to be more disciplined at the plate and take the pitchers deep into the count this weekend.

Our team has a very hard non-conference schedule that will be very challenging. Stay behind them and continue to support them. By Big Ten play, I foresee these boys playing unbelievable baseball and taking two of three games each away series.

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