If you think the Big Ten is bad with basketball scheduling when it comes to Indiana and Purdue you haven't seen what they have done with baseball. Other conferences, and even the Big Ten on occasion, have figured out how to schedule a three-game rivalry series a long time ago. Michigan and Michigan State have occasionally played a home game each with the third game coming at a neutral field, even at Comerica Park. Other times conferences make sure teams play every year, just alternating who is at home.
Not the Big Ten.
In 2011 Purdue hosted Indiana for a three-game series and won all three to move to 30-13, 10-5 in the Big Ten as they tried to make a move for an NCAA bid and a Big Ten title. They would eventually fall short after getting swept at Michigan State in a close series, but the groundwork for the great 2012 season was laid.
It was also the last time the Hoosiers have played in West Lafayette.
Yes, in one of the absolute dumbest moves by the Big Ten, Purdue and Indiana, despite having some really good teams in the following years, barely played.
2012: In Purdue's Big Ten title season the teams did not have a regular season series. They did meet twice in the Big Ten Tournament with Purdue winning 3-0 and 6-5.
2013: Once again, the two teams didn't meet. That was probably a good thing, as Indiana went on to the College World Series and Purdue finished 17-34.
2014: Indiana's all-time great team that would earn a national seed to the NCAA Tournament hosted Purdue in Bloomington and won all three games easily 6-0, 7-3, and 12-3. Purdue finished a dismal 13-37.
2015: With Rutgers and Maryland now in the mix and only 8 baseball series in conference play for 13 teams Indiana again rotated off the schedule. Purdue finished 20-34, while Indiana made the NCAA Tournament for a third straight season.
2016: Inexplicably, Purdue and Indiana are playing in Bloomington again. It makes me want to ask the Big Ten if Indiana is allowed to play Purdue in West Lafayette in baseball.
This weekend is a big one for the Governor's Cup. After splitting this week's midweek softball doubleheader Purdue holds an 8.5-6.5 lead with five events left. This is the last head-to-head event for the year two, as the last four points will be decided by the team finishes at the men's and women's Big Ten golf championships and outdoor track and field championships.
Purdue (4-21, 0-6) at Indiana (14-13, 1-2)
Friday 4pm: Mike Lutz (1-1, 4.38 ERA) vs. Kyle Hart (5-2, 2.42 ERA)
Saturday 2pm: Shane Bryant (0-1, 6.65 ERA) vs. Caleb Baragar (2.1, 1.49 ERA)
Sunday 3pm: TBD vs. Evan Bell (0-3, 2.98 ERA) Game televised on BTN
Indiana is not as good as the last three seasons, but this is a very, very bad Purdue team. The Hoosiers started 1-6 after losing two of three at Middle Tennessee State and dropping all three games at Cal State Fullerton. They later had a run of seven wins in eight games before getting into Big Ten play last weekend. They dropped two of three at Rutgers, but a weekend home series against the worst team in the league gives them a great shot to get back into the Big Ten race.
They have the pitching to do it, too. Their 2.58 ERA is among the best in the Big Ten and Friday Starter Kyle Hart has been excellent. Saturday starter Caleb Baragar has an ERA below 2 and with more than 42 innings pitched. It is pretty much the opposite of Purdue's pitching. Purdue's team ERA is at 5.86 and climbing.
At the plate Purdue is batting .251, while Indiana is only slightly better at .261. Their hitting has not been what it was, but that's what happened when Kyle Schwarber goes from crushing balls out of the park during a great two year run to nearly performing a miracle and taking the Cubs to the World Series. Ryan Fineman and Craig Dedelow lead the team with averages over .300. Logan Sowers and Brian Wilhite each have five home runs.
For Purdue, Kyle Wood has cooled off a bit in terms of hitting the ball out of the park, but he still has a Big Ten best 9 home runs and 24 RBI. The hitting stats overall are okay, but in 25 games Purdue has left 211 men on base. If they leave any more on those men stranded will be able to file for representation in Congress.
It is just sad what Purdue baseball has become at this point. After two weekends they are already three games out of even a Big Ten Tournament spot. They were competitive last weekend at Penn State and with another bounce or two they might have won two games, but they dropped a midweek game to Indiana State to bring their losing streak to 10 in a row. Sadly, the 19 run explosion against East Tennessee State on March 5th (one of the four wins Purdue has) is 18% of the entire offensive output for the 25 game season so far.
At this point Purdue might be lucky to win another game, as it has an RPI of 255 out of 300 Division I teams and only three teams in all of Division I have a worse record than 4-21. They are Mississippi Valley State (2-20), Mount St. Mary's (3-20), and Eastern Illinois (4-23).
Going 0-24 in the Big Ten is a real possibility, folks, with the May 6-8 cripplefight at Northwestern (7-21, 1-5) being the best chance at a win.