The second of Purdue’s eight Big Ten series is this weekend, and that means the Boilers are back on the road. Purdue had the unlucky draw to have two of its four road Bog Ten series in the first two weeks of conference play, but the payoff comes after this. After this weekend Purdue only has 10 games left away from Alexander Field. It will play three game series at Rutgers and Minnesota, then it has midweek games at Indiana State, No. 3 ranked Louisville, Valparaiso, and a neutral site game in Kokomo against IPFW. The remaining 19 games will all be at home, and if Purdue qualifies for the Big Ten Tournament it will be in nearby Bloomington.
Purdue did finally have its home opener this week with two midweek games against Kent State and Valparaiso. On Tuesday the Boilers got their best RPI win over the season with a 3-2 win over No. 29 Kent State. Purdue trailed 2-1 entering the ninth inning, but Jacson McGowan reached base with one out on a dropped third strike. Milo Beam entered for him as a pinch runner and went to third on a two-out single from Skyler Hunter. He then scored on a two-out balk after Hunter stole second. The balk moved Hunter to third, and he scored on an infield single from Logan Poisall.
On Wednesday runs were still tough to come by. Tanner Schumacher gave up four earned runs and Purdue left 10 runners on base. The Purdue pitching staff recorded 13 strikeouts, eight of which came from reliever Brian Ghiselli. The Boilers had the bases loaded with one out in the ninth, but Mike Madej grounded into a game-ending double play in a 5-1 loss to Valparaiso.
The Valpo loss dropped Purdue from the mid 60s to 94 in the RPI, but the team has a chance to improve on that this weekend in Columbus.
WEEKEND SERIES INFORMATION
Purdue (13-11, 1-2 B1G) at Ohio State (10-14, 0-3 B1G)
Friday to Sunday, March 31 to April 2 at 6:30, 6 and 1 p.m. ET / Game 2 on BTN, BTN2Go
Bill Davis Stadium / Columbus, Ohio
All-Time Series: OSU leads 145-62-1 / All-Time in Columbus: OSU leads 77-23
2016: OSU swept a 3-game series (April 29-May 1 in West Lafayette)
Last Series in Columbus & Purdue’s Last Series Win vs. OSU: Purdue won 2-of-3 (March 2012)
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Tanner Andrews (Jr, RHP) vs. TBA for Ohio State
Saturday: Gareth Stroh (So, LHP) vs. TBA for Ohio State
Sunday: Mike Kornacker (So, RHP) vs. TBA for Ohio State
Rain will likely be a major factor this weekend in getting these games in, so the schedule is a bit up in the air. Ohio State has been up and down to start this season. They have a 6-1 win over the No. 1 ranked team in America, Oregon State. That was on February 24 in Surprise, Arizona and it is the only loss so far on the season for the Beavers, who are 21-1. The Buckeyes also took one of three at Florida Gulf Coast, who is an impressive 23-3 and 8th in the RPI. Florida Gulf Coast is for real, as they are a combined 4-0 against Florida powers Florida, Florida State, and Miami.
The wins over Oregon State and FGCU are two of the best wins that any Big Ten team has this season. Things have not gone well since then, however. The Buckeyes were swept in weekend series by Xavier and Minnesota the last two weekends. They won their midweek game over Ohio 3-0 on Tuesday, but aside from the wins over Oregon State and FGCU this is a team that has struggled mostly.
Here is what Land-Grant Holyland has had to say about OSU’s struggles:
Tuesday’s 3-0 victory over Ohio University didn’t feel like a typical midweek game for the Ohio State baseball team. After being swept two straight weekends by Xavier and Minnesota, the Buckeyes were in desperate need of something good happening on the field, something to stave off, if even for a few days, the feeling of the season teetering on the brink of collapse.
“It was one of those games where we wanted to get guys work, but we thought we needed to win also,” head coach Greg Beals told The Lantern. “We needed to get on winning ways. We needed to change the air and the only way to do that is to have some success and win a ballgame.”
What has hurt OSU is that they are 12th in the Big Ten in hitting, only ahead of Penn State (remember: Wisconsin does not have a baseball program). They are batting only .240 as a team compared to Purdue’s .272. Their pitching has been merely average with a 5.15 team ERA. The top of Purdue’s lineup is among the best in the Big Ten too. Leadoff man Harry Shipley is fifth in runs scored with 21. McGowan is fourth in the conference with 24 RBI and second with 8 doubles. Nick Dalesandro is third in the league with 34 hits and Hunter is third with a .384 batting average.
Getting a road series win here over a struggling Ohio State team would be huge with four home series to go. As usual, we’ll need Tanner Andrews to have a solid Friday outing and he has delivered so far with a 4-1 record. The top eight teams in the Big Ten standings qualify for the Big Ten Tournament at the end of the year, and after years of being a regular there Purdue has not qualified since 2012. It is still very early, but If Purdue can come out of the weekend 3-3 or better in conference play it will have a great shot of making the Big Ten Tourney.