After having no games this week due to Finals, Purdue baseball returns to the diamond this weekend for a big weekend series against Michigan State. This weekend will basically decide if Purdue has any chance whatsoever of making the postseason. Currently, the Boilers are on the outside looking in when it comes to the Big Ten Tournament. The top eight teams make the conference tourney and Purdue is currently in 10thplace at 6-8. They trail Ohio State and Rutgers by half a game for the last spot, but this weekend is pretty much not only a must-win, but a must sweep.
Michigan State is awful. They have the worst overall record in the league at 14-28 and are just 3-11 in conference play. They have a slightly better record than last place Penn State at 2-15, but the Spartans have been bad all year and Purdue must take advantage.
Michigan State (14-28, 3-11) at Purdue (17-26, 6-8)
Friday 6pm, Saturday 6pm, Sunday 1pm
Michigan State has been bad all season long, but they have had a few good moments. They took one of three game at Indiana and the Hoosiers are right on the edge of earning a hosting spot in the NCAA Tournament. They also won two of three at home against Indiana State, another solid NCAA team and won Purdue has lost two twice. They also have a win at Arizona and they are coming off of a series win at Northwestern last weekend.
The Spartans are near the bottom of the conference in almost every statistical category. They are 12thin batting at .234 (Purdue is 11that .238), 11thin pitching with a team ERA of 5.00 (Purdue is 7that 4.31), and 11thin fielding with 60 errors (Purdue is 5thwith only 50).
Bryce Kelley is their top hitter, batting .313, but with only 5 RBI. Adam Proctor is their biggest bat with 7 home runs, while Marty Bechina and Zach Iverson each have four. After a couple of home runs last weekend Purdue is now up to nine as a team as Zac Fascia, Bryce Bonner, and Ryan Howe each have two.
Michigan State, like Purdue, has also struggled to have a regular rotation on the mound. Mason Erla is 2-6 in 10 starts with a 5.12 ERA. Mitchell Tyranski has started seven games and is 1-7 with a 4.72 ERA. Purdue will likely counter with Andrew Bohm (0-6, 5.53 ERA), Patrick J. Smith (4-3, 4.10), and maybe Cory Brooks (1-0, 0.00 ERA). Coach Waz mentioned that Brooks could move to the weekend rotation after two solid midweek starts as he returns from tommy John surgery. He has been very good with only one hit given up in six innings, but he is still limited in the amount of innings he can throw.
As I said above, Purdue desperately needs a sweep. We’re chasing Rutgers (at Penn State this weekend) and Ohio State (at Minnesota) for the final spots in the Big Ten Tournament. Next week at Illinois will be very tough, as the Illini are projected as a 2 seed in the NCAA Tournament as of right now and a solid at large team. We then finish with Ohio State in West Lafayette. We need as many wins as we can get against the bottom of the league and we’re at least 4-1 against the teams below us (Northwestern, Penn State, and Michigan State). Anything less than a sweep makes the postseason unlikely.