Relax, it is almost over.
Purdue baseball is down to the final two weeks of an absolutely miserable season and all but one of the final eight games will be at Alexander Field. They have a midweek game next week against IPFW in Kokomo at the new Municipal Stadium there (the same place they played Ohio), but this week they host Minnesota and next week is their Big Ten bye week, so Cal State Northridge is coming for a four game season finale set. Both teams are in the top 100 of the RPI, so it does not bode well for our Boilers.
Earlier this week the losing continued. On Tuesday IPFW broke a nine game losing streak against Purdue with a 4-3 victory. The Boilers left 14 runners on base and left the bases loaded in the first, seventh, and ninth. Eddie De LaRiva took the loss after giving up a three-run home run in the first and lasting only a third of an inning.
On Wednesday Purdue went to Valparaiso and finally found its bats to start hitting. Unfortunately, the Purdue pitching that had actually been semi-decent in recent weeks imploded as the Boilers lost 13-10 despite 17 hits. Daniel sander was 5 for 5 with three doubles and 5 RBI for the best game at the plate by a Boilermaker in five years. Purdue led 5-1 and 10-6, but gave up five in the third and 7 in the sixth.
Purdue (7-39, 2-19) vs. Minnesota (30-15, 12-5)
Friday 7pm: Gavin Downs (1-5, 5.98 ERA) vs. Matt Fielder (7-2, 3.97 ERA)
Saturday 2pm: Matt Frawley (1-5, 3.39 ERA) vs. Dalton Sawyer (6-5, 3.34 ERA)
Sunday 1pm: Shane Bryant (0-4, 5.40 ERA) vs. Toby Anderson (6-1, 3.61 ERA)
There isn't a whole lot to say here. Purdue might be the worst Big Ten baseball team in several decades. Minnesota is ranked 25th nationally, has been in the discussion to host a regional for most of the season, and they trail Indiana by a half game for the Big Ten lead after dropping two of three to the Hoosiers last week. They have an RPI of 34 compared to Purdue's 281 (out of 300 teams) and, in general, are a lot better than the Boilers in almost every way. They, along with Michigan, Nebraska, and Michigan State, are expected to be at large selections into the NCAA Tournament with Maryland and Indiana each getting a shot.
Their turnaround from 19-30 last season at least gives Purdue a small measure of hope. They did lose one game of three at Georgia State, which is one of the precious few teams Purdue has actually beaten. The Boilers also did beat Michigan State and Maryland once, so anything can happen.
In reality, this is a team with a lot more to play for and they don't want to get tripped up by one of the worst college baseball teams in the country. Indiana closes with difficult games against Illinois and Nebraska, so Minnesota is fighting for a Big Ten title and potential hosting spot in the NCAAs. A loss to Purdue would be devastating on both fronts.
They are led by Matt Fielder. In addition to being their Friday ace he also plays in the outfield when he is not pitching and bats .404 with 6 home runs and 33 RBI. Austin Athmann is tied with Purdue's Kyle Wood for the Big Ten lead with 11 home runs, and he also bats .393. Terrin Vavra bats .390 and Alex Boxwell is batting .370 for a very potent lineup. Minnesota is hitting .331 as a team with 42 home runs, so expect them to tee off against Purdue's pitching.
A small bright spot for Purdue is Brett Carlson, who has hit well of late to raise his average to .304. Kyle Johnson is also continuing to do well with a .306 average, but Purdue is facing one of the best teams in the Big Ten this weekend. Expect yet another sweep. With one more loss Purdue will set a new school record for losses in a season. If the Boilers get swept the 2-22 finish will be the worst in Big Ten play by any team since Iowa went 2-13 in 1986. Purdue also set a futility record by going 1-15 in B1G play in 1975 and the Boilers were the last winless team in Big Ten play, going 0-12 in 1968.
If you're looking at the expanded schedule, however, where teams played at least 24 games in conference play (eight three-game series, and there was a time where is was eight four-game series) no team has lost 22 Big Ten games since Iowa went 10-22 in 2008, which was the last year of the 32-game conference schedules. The worst team in conference play since going to 24 games was Penn State in 2013, who went 4-20.
Lest you think that this is all on coach Doug Schreiber, he has won 482 games for Purdue as the all-time winningest coach in school history and he is 11th all-time in Big Ten history, second most active behind Minnesota's John Anderson. It is just incredibly odd that Purdue has gotten this bad, this quickly. If they lose their final 8 games, the 47 overall losses may be a Big Ten record.