After 18 straight games to begin the season Purdue Baseball finally gets its home opener today. Purdue is set to host Lipscomb for 3 games this weekend (weather permitting) and Purdue couldn’t be coming home at a better time. After a hot 8-1 start that included a championship in the Alamo Irish Classic Purdue has won just one of its last eight games to fall to 9-9.
Today also marks the start of Big Ten conference play. Since the league has just 13 schools that play baseball (Wisconsin does not have a program) this is Purdue’s “bye” week. That means our opponent will be Lipscomb. For us, conference play begins next week at Penn State (6-9).
WEEKEND SERIES INFORMATION
Lipscomb (9-12) at Purdue (9-9)
Friday to Saturday, March 22 to 23 / BTN Plus on BTN2Go
Friday Doubleheader at 2 p.m. ET / Saturday Series Finale at 1 p.m. ET
Alexander Field / West Lafayette, Indiana
All-Time Series: Purdue leads 4-0 / All-Time in West Lafayette: First Meetings
Last Series: Purdue swept a three-game set (March 2011 in Nashville)
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday Game 1: Tanner Andrews (Sr, RHP) vs. Lipscomb’s Joshua Colon (Jr, RHP)
Friday Game 2: Gareth Stroh (Jr, LHP) vs. Lipscomb’s Chris Kachmar (Jr, RHP)
Saturday: Trent Johnson (Fr, RHP) vs. Lipscomb’s Noah Thompson (Fr, LHP)
With snow in the forecast for Saturday the teams have decided to play a doubleheader today starting at 2pm in order to get at least two games in. The third game is scheduled for Saturday afternoon now, but if the weather is bad Sunday will be an option. I would imagine the possibility of the turf fields at Grand Park in Westfield is a possibility for Sunday as well should Alexander Field be too much of a mess because of 3-5 inches of snow expected on Saturday.
Lipscomb enters the weekend at 9-12, but took two out of three games from Michigan in Nashville two weeks ago. They also had a 17-3 loss at the hands of Indiana State, a team Purdue will face later. They are led at the plate by Jeffrey Crisan, who is batting .385 with 2 HR and 16 RBI. Zeke Dodson is also quite productive with a .372 average, 2 HR, and 17 RBI. Everyone else is under .300 for the year.
On the mound Colon is a relatively new starter. He is 1-1 in two started with a 4.05 ERA. The No. 2 starter in Kachmar is 1-0 in five starts with a 3.30 ERA, while Thompson has been very good in his five starts. He is 3-1 with a 3.30 ERA.
Purdue has simply been a mess for most of the last 9 games. The offense has scored three runs or less (getting shutout twice) during this stretch and the pitching was shelled by St. Louis last week for 33 runs in three games. Skyler Hunter, Nick Dalesandro, and Jacson McGowan are all batting better than .318, but they have fallen off a bit after all three were well over .400 before the spring break trip.
On the mound Tanner Andrews was the hard luck loser in the 1-0 series opener at Tulane two weeks ago, but he was knocked around for 9 runs last week in just two innings. Of course, six of those were unearned after a second inning error kept the inning alive. His overall ERA is 1.84. Gareth Stroh has also been okay with a 2-0 record and 2.66 ERA. Trent Johnson looked strong for four innings in the Sunday start against St. Louis, and he is 0-1 with a 1.42 ERA.
This needs to be a weekend where Purdue breaks out of it. The team is clearly slumping right now. It had a great opportunity to build an NCAA resume the last few games but the struggles prevented that. Now, with conference play on the horizon, they have a second chance. This team can still win 30 games and reach the Big Ten Tournament. The improvement of the Big Ten overall also opens the door to recover the RPI.
With our top two pitchers going today Purdue needs to sweep the doubleheader. If game 3 happens somewhere, it will be a bonus if they can win that one. Hopefully home field kick starts things again.