Last week was a rough one for Purdue. The Boilers started the season at #21 Southern Miss and held a lead in the 6th inning or later in all three games, but came up short all three times in getting swept. It was enough that Purdue was named to Eric Sorenson’s “Ouch List”:
What Happened: Lost all three at Southern Miss
Why It Hurts: Blown opportunities for quality wins
Like SLU above, this is certainly not a big “ouch” on the Ouch List pain scale since USM is going to be a Regional team this June. But the part that hurts is that the Boilermakers blew leads in all three games, including that painful 6-5 lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning of Friday’s 7-6, 10-inning loss. I get the feeling that the Boilers will be good again this year, for sure. In fact, I can’t wait to see what they do at Texas this coming weekend.
This weekend is, indeed, another opportunity for quality wins, as is next weekend against a pretty good Oral Roberts team. The Longhorns were in last year’s College World Series and are one of the premier programs in all of college baseball. It won’t be easy, but if Purdue can get a game or two this weekend it will pay huge dividends later on.
Purdue (0-3, 38-21 in 2018) at No. 14 Texas (3-1, 42-23 in 2018)
Friday to Sunday, Feb. 22 to 24 / All 4 Games on Longhorn Network
Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET / Saturday Doubleheader at 2 p.m. ET / Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET
UFCU Disch-Falk Field / Austin, Texas
All-Time Series: Texas leads 3-0
Last Series: No. 1 Texas swept a 3-game set (March 2005)
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Dalton Parker (Jr, RHP) vs. UT’s Bryce Elder (So, RHP)
Saturday Game 1: Ryan Beard (Sr, LHP) vs. UT’s Blair Henley (Jr, RHP)
Saturday Game 2: Andrew Bohm (R-So, RHP) vs. Coy Cobb (Fr, RHP)
Sunday: TBA vs. TBA
This weekend is Texas’ home opener, as they took two of three on the road at Louisiana last weekend and had a midweek win at Rice. All their games at Louisiana were close as they won the Friday game in extra innings and the Saturday game by a run. Our friends at Burnt Orange Nation have some excellent coverage of their season opening games.
At the plate Austin Todd has been red hot, batting .444 so far with 5 RBI. Ryan Reynolds (not Deadpool), is also batting over .400 at .429. The Longhorns are not a team that thrives on the longball like Southern Miss. They only have three home runs so far, but Purdue went all of last weekend without a longball. They are batting .286 as a team to Purdue’s .245.
Purdue has three guys batting over .400 so far. Zac Fascia had a solid debut weekend for Purdue, batting .571 in two starts behind the plate. Owen Jansen was on fire batting .455 while Charlie Nasuti batted .429. Cole McKenzie also had four hits in his leadoff spot.
Purdue’s offense was not the problem. It was the bullpen. Dalton Parker, Ryan Beard, and Andrew Bohm did well to start games. Bohm gave up four runs in his first inning but threw very well in the rest of his outing. The bullpen got shelled though. Trent Johnson and Austin Peterson each gave up four earned runs and Kyle Wade got his first four batters, but gave up three baserunners in his third inning of work who later scored. Matt Moore was our best arm out of the bullpen.
For Texas, Bryce Elder was excellent on Friday night. He gave up one run and struck out nine, but did not get the win as Texas won 3-1 in 10 innings. As a staff, Texas has a 3.75 ERA, but Elder is the only starter that has made it past three innings so far.
The biggest difference between these two is the bullpen. Texas has been solid so far. Purdue’s bullpen has sucked. With four games in three days we’re going to need to get a lot of innings from our starters and hope some of the younger arms settle down. The offense has been pretty solid for us so far and Ben Nisle is eventually going to break through as our big bat in the lineup. We just need better pitching. The good news is that Southern Miss has a really potent lineup, so that might be part of it. Unfortunately, we gave up 19 walks, hit 5 batters, and committed 5 errors last weekend.
Much like last week, avoiding the sweep needs to be the main goal. The strength of Purdue’s schedule is definitely in these first 11 games on the road at NCAA teams from a year ago. We missed some chances last week, but grabbing a game or two here against the toughest team we’ll face all season would be a huge step forward.