Purdue baseball is gifted with a great chance to gain some status with a few wins when it heads to Kansas this weekend for the Millard Management Classic. The Boilers will play a three-game round-robin in the four-team tournament beginning Friday afternoon. First, they open with St. Louis (5-8) at noon on Friday. On Saturday Purdue will face North Dakota (2-4) at noon. The tournament wraps up on Sunday with host Kansas (3-7) at 4pm in a game that will be available on ESPN3.
Friday: Tanner Andrews (0-2, 6.28 ERA) vs. Matt Eckelman (1-2, 10.22 ERA)
St. Louis started the season cold at 0-8 before winning their last five games. They were swept by BYU in four and lost four games at a tournament in Emerson, Georgia. Since then, they have only given up 4 runs in five games. They beat non-D1 Rockhurst, took three from Chicago State, and won a midweek game against Eastern Illinois.
Unlike Cal, St. Louis does not have much power. They have only two home runs as a team through 13 games. Purdue will dodge their best pitchers, too. They get Eckelman, who has been roughed up in three starts for 14 earned runs in 12 1/3 innings. Alex King, Trent Leimkuehler, and Cole Dubet are all batting over .300 for a team that bates .258.
Purdue's bullpen has got to be better, as well. It has been shelled the last two weekends pretty badly and blew a pair of winnable games at East Tennessee State.
Saturday: Mike Lutz (0-0, 4.70 ERA) vs. Brett DeGagne (1-1, 3.27 ERA)
They may have a losing record, but North Dakota has done very well to start the season. They took two of three at USC in 1-0 and 5-4 decision before losing the Sunday game 7-6. They then were swept at Alabama 2-1, 5-2, 7-1. Their offense has not been great with only a .219 team average, but opponents are batting just .200 against them. Ben Reznicek is their best hitter at .304.
Purdue makes a change in their rotation by going with Lutz, who did well in his first start last week. He got a no decision after a strong outing on Sunday. He is replacing Gavin Downs who was shelled in all three starts (13.50 ERA in just 6 2/3 innings over three starts).
Sunday: Nick Dalesandro (0-2, 7.71 ERA) vs. Blake Weiman (0-0, 3.09 ERA)
The host Jayhawks have also been swept by BYU, but only in three games. Their wins are over Northern Colorado twice and Utah once, while they dropped a pair of games at national power Oregon State. They bat .241 as a team with just two home runs.
Purdue will send Dalesandro to the mound, who has a high ERA but has done relatively well as a true freshman in a starting role. He is also Purdue second best hitter at .355. He is behind Kyle Johnson, who is having a great year batting .390 with 3 home runs and 11 RBI. Jack Picchiotti also continues to do well at the plate, batting .324.