Purdue baseball entered the weekend with the fewest wins of any Big Ten team. After Nebraska left West Lafayette with a three game sweep the Boilers are now firmly in last place and, with an RPI of 254 out of 300 programs, they are one of the worst teams in the country. Only Northwestern at 273 has a lower RPI in the Big Ten, and the Wildcats managed to take a game at Ohio State this weekend. Officially, Purdue is tied for last place with Rutgers, who was swept by Michigan State. Even worse, Purdue has played the second most games against the top 50 of the RPI, but they are 0-8 in such games.
Combined with midweek losses to Ball State and Louisville Purdue has now lost six in a row and is 4-17 overall.
Nebraska 9, Purdue 5
As is typical this season, Purdue was behind big before getting on the scoreboard. Nebraska led 5-0 after two runs in the second and three in the third. A two-run double in the third by Kyle Wood got Purdue within 5-2, but a run in the fourth and two in the fifth had the Cornhuskers ahead 8-2 and starter Mike Lutz out of the game. Lutz was tagged for 14 hits and 8 runs, six of them earned.
Eddie De LaRiva had his best outing in some time in relief, giving up just two hits and a run in four and a third, but Purdue could only manage two in the fifth and one in the sixth. Wood got his third RBI on a fielder's choice in the fifth.
Nebraska 11, Purdue 6
The Cornhuskers again lead early, this time 2-0 after an inning, then scored seven in the final two innings to win going away despite three ninth inning runs by the Boilers. Matt Frawley had one of the longest outings for a Purdue starting pitcher this season with six innings. He gave up four runs on six hits, but four errors were critical in the loss.
Purdue trailed just 4-3 going into the eighth, but a leadoff double started a three-run inning. Another leadoff double in the ninth led to a four run inning as Nebraska had five hits in the inning and eight in the last two frames. Cody Strong would have a two-run single in the ninth for Purdue.
Nebraska 9, Purdue 8
For the sixth straight game Purdue gave up 9 runs or more, but they were almost able to claw back and steal a win in the series finale. Nebraska lead 2-0 after an inning and 8-1 going into the bottom of the sixth, but the Boilers were able to make a furious comeback. Wood brought home Kyle Johnson on an RBI triple and scored on a throwing error. Alex Olund added an RBI single in the inning too.
Purdue scored three more times in the seventh thanks to a three-run homer from Wood. Wood now has a Big Ten best nine home runs in the last 14 games. Purdue then had first and second with one out, but grounded into an inning ending double play.
Nebraska got a run back in the 8th, but Purdue had the bases loaded down two in the 8th with no one out. Olund drove a run home on a fielder's choice, but with Johnson and Wood up, Purdue's two best hitters, they could not get the tying run home thanks to a flyout and a strikeout. Purdue also had the tying run on in the ninths, but Olund struck out swinging with Nick Dalesandro on third.
After this disappointing opener I think it is time to start questioning Purdue's coaching staff. Doug Schreiber is in a bit of a tough spot. He is in his 18th season and even though he is Purdue's all-time wins leader,he has now seen his overall record dip below .500 to 479-484 during the current six game losing streak. From 2000-2012 he had Purdue regularly in contention in the Big Ten. Three times the Boilers finished in second place and in 2001 they just missed making the NCAA Tournament. It all culminated in the best season in program history as Purdue was 45-14 in 2012 and spent much of the season in the top 15 nationally. Purdue won the Big Ten, hosted an NCAA regional, and most of the starting lineup was drafted.
Since then, Purdue baseball has been dismal. They have followed that season up with records of 17-34, 13-37, 20-34, and now 4-17. That's 54-124 since beating Valparaiso to start the 2012 regional. I understand that losing the greatest class in school history can lead to a dropoff, but just look at Indiana. In 2013 they made a surprise run to Omaha with a team much like Purdue's 2012 team. The next year they were a national seed and even made the tournament for a third straight season last year. Before about 2010 their program was really no better than our own, yet they have found a way to sustain their success, whereas Purdue plummeted off a cliff.
That is why it may be time to question Schreiber. From 2004-12 Purdue at least made the Big Ten Tournament (meaning a top 6 league finish) in all but one season. Now they are in what is clearly their worst period under Schreiber. Before 2013 Schreiber's worst season was 22-32 in 2007. It was only his fourth losing season in his first 14 years, now he is well on his way to his fourth in a row, all worse than 2007.
And this season is much like the last three: Purdue's pitching is awful and the hitting, especially with men on base, is not much better.