This weekend's baseball series has had a major schedule change due to expected bad weather on Sunday. The Boilers host Ohio State, and Friday is not w doubleheader beginning at 3:00pm today. The second game will follow approximately 30 minutes afterwards, while game 3 will be tomorrow at 2pm. It marks the beginning of a nice closing stretch for Purdue, where 11 of the final 16 games of the 2016 season will be played at Alexander Field.
Ohio State (25-14-1, 5-7) at Purdue (7-31, 2-13)
Friday Game 1: Gavin Downs (1-3, 5.27 ERA) vs. Tanner Tully (4-3, 2.74 ERA)
Friday Game 2: Matt Frawley (1-4, 4.63 ERA) vs. John Havrid (4-1, 2.72 ERA)
Saturday: Shane Bryant (0-3, 6.55 ERA) vs. Adam Niemeyer (3-2, 3.67 ERA)
There is not a ton at stake here for Purdue, but if the Boilers are going to make a stunning run back into contention for a Big Ten Tournament spot it has to begin this weekend against an Ohio State team that has a good overall record, but has struggled in league play. Conversely, the Buckeyes are currently a game out of the last Big Ten tourney spot, so they are looking to gain ground by beating up on the last place Boilers.
Ohio State has a few good wins, but their overall RPI is only at 100. They got a very nice true road win at Coastal Carolina, who could be an NCAA Tourney host in a few weeks. They also beat Pittsburgh, who is buoyed by a strong ACC slate. In conference play they are one of only two teams to lose to Northwestern, who shares the Big Ten basement with Purdue. They were also swept at Maryland and recently lost two of three to Illinois.
The Buckeyes feature one of the best pitching staffs in the Big Ten. Their team ERA of 3.12 is third in the league and they have struck out the most batters at 323. This does not look good for Purdue, who has the worst pitching staff in the league by quite a bit. Purdue has a team ERA of 5.81 and teams are batting .314 against the Boilers.
There is some hope, however. Gavin Downs is coming off of the best outing of his career where he shut down a potent Maryland offense by giving up just one run over 8 innings for his first win of the year. He was excellent last week in the 7-1 Friday victory. Matt Frawley in game 2 has been Purdue's most consistent pitcher too. The Buckeyes have an edge at the end of the game with Yianni Pavlopoulos notching eight saves. Purdue, meanwhile, has one save on the entire season as a team. Of course, it is hard to rack up many saves with only seven wins overall.
At the plate this series also features the leading home run hitters in the conference. Purdue's Kyle Wood is at the top with 10, while Ohio State's Jacob Bosiokovic is one behind with nine. The Buckeyes have hit a league best 41 home runs, while Purdue has given up a league worst 27 home runs.
This could be the weekend where Purdue breaks through with an actual series win. The last two weekend the Boilers have managed to win a game against teams likely bound for the NCAA Tournament in Michigan State and Maryland. Ohio State is not as good as either one of those teams. Unfortunately, Purdue has not won a home series against Ohio State since 1987.