Purdue has been playing baseball since 1888 and, by no means, is a blue blood in the world of college baseball. It still has not seen as season as bad as this one.
This weekend Purdue traveled to Northwestern, who carried an identical 2-16 Big Ten record into the three game series. The Boilermakers had an excellent chance to win a series or at least win a game.
The Wildcats swept Purdue instead, sealing a last place finish in the Big Ten with one more conference series to go.
Yeah, it's bad. Purdue lost 7-3, 7-4, and 3-0 to a team that was only 10-33 overall and had not won more than two games in a row before this weekend. The Wildcats were even on a seven game losing streak and were 1-6 in their previous 17 Big Ten games. There really can be no highlights when something like this happens.
In Sunday's game starter Shane Bryant pitched well, going 7 1/3 innings, but Purdue stranded 12 runners on base. On Saturday Purdue gave up three unearned runs in the 8th in the 7-4 loss, while Friday Kyle Wood hit his Big Ten leading 11th home run.
At 7-37 Purdue is two losses from tying the school record for losses in a season set during a 16-39 season in 1994. This comes four seasons after winning a school record 45 games. Unless Purdue wins another game in the final 10 it will tie for the fewest wins since going 7-24 in 1975. You have to go all the way back to 1968 for a season when Purdue won fewer games, and that was a 4-21-1 record with only 26 games. Purdue has played 44 and is scheduled to play 10 more.
Since beating Valparaiso in the opening game of the 2012 NCAA Tournament (Purdue's lone NCAA win in school history) Purdue is 57-144. What's more astonishing is that this has all come after one of the best runs in school history, and it is under the same manager. Doug Schreiber is Purdue's all-time winningest coach. Since taking over in 1999 he has guided Purdue to at least 30 wins seven times and won the Big Ten title in 2012 (the first in 103 years). He has taken Purdue to the NCAA Tournament once and come damn close two other times (The 37-20 team in 2011 was robbed). We even had our "fumble" moment:
Ultimately, the game boiled down to the critical second inning. On a night where we struggled to get the leadoff man out, Lance Breedlove got the first two outs in the second relatively easily. Two seeing-eye singles got Kent State in action, but Evan Campbell walked on a close 3-2 pitch. Purdue was literally a strike away from getting out of the inning with no damage. Instead, Jimmy Rider followed with a critical 3 RBI double that was fair by about a foot in left field. Now it is 4-2 after being up 2-1 with two outs, no one on. Another single and a double would score two more runs and chase Breedlove.
What's even more inexplicable is that this is a senior-laden team that was recruited in the wake of that great run from 2011-12 when Purdue went 82-34. From 2008-2012 Purdue went a Big Ten best 172-110, and in the last four years it has fallen to dead last. This roster has 12 seniors. Wood and Gavin Downs were even redshirting during the great 2012 season. By all accounts this team should be better, but it is epically, horribly bad and might be the worst in school history. The best players such as Wood, Kyle Johnson, Jack Picchiotti, and more will be gone next season too.
I haven't even mentioned that Purdue now has Alexander Field as one of the nicest and newest fields in the Big Ten. We have invested in the program with that, as it is more than a field. It has the batting cages and other amenities that has our facility on par with some of the best in the country. It just doesn't make any sense. Purdue had its great season and fell off a cliff. You can't even blame it on being a "northern" team, because Indiana came along a year later, also with a new field, made the CWS, and might win the Big Ten for a third time in four years and reach the NCAAs for a fourth straight season. Their history was hardly better than our own before that, too.
I don't know where we go from here. I don't know if Doug Schreiber survives this, especially since it would be a better end to what was a really good career through 2012. Something has to change, however, because Purdue is at the bottom of a crater and the rest of the Big Ten has greatly improved.