This weekend is a homecoming of sort for Purdue baseball coach Greg Goff. Goff’s first Division I head coaching job was at Campbell from 2008-14, where he went 224-174 and took them to the NCAA Tournament in his final season. His last three seasons were excellent in Buies Creek, as they won 41, 49, and 41 games. Purdue was invited to face the host Camels along with Maine and Villanova in the three-game round robin Campbell Invitational.
Friday vs. Campbell 5pm
Campbell is a very good small conference program. The last two years they have made the NCAA Tournament. Last year they even did some damage. They upset #2 seed North Carolina State 5-4 and beat Quinnipiac 9-8 to reach the Greenville Regional final, but then lost twice to host East Carolina 10-3 and 12-3. They finished 37-21.
This past week they got a measure of revenge against East Carolina, as they beat the #19 ranked Pirates last night 7-2 in a midweek game. They are now 2-2 on the season, having lost two of three at South Alabama last weekend. A.J. Hrica (.429, 2 RBI) and Marcus Skundrich (.417 average) have started the season hot. Zach Williams has also driven in eight runs so far.
Purdue will like face Cam Cowan on the mound, who was a very hard luck loser in the season opener at South Alabama. He struck out 15 in 8 1/3 innings while giving up just three hits and a walk, but Campbell lost 1-0 on a one out ninth inning home run off of him. Purdue will counter with Trent Johnson, who lasted only 2 2/3 innings against Hofstra in our season opener.
Saturday vs. Maine Noon
Maine was winless in its opening weekend, dropping all three games at Winthrop 3-1, 9-4, and 13-4. Colby Emmertz started the year hot, batting .500 while Hemen Sardinas hit .455 last weekend, but they were the only two that hit with any consistency against Winthrop.
On the mound Purdue will likely send out Cory Brooks, who had the best outing of any Purdue pitcher last weekend. He went five innings in relief and gave up just one run in Purdue’s Saturday win over Hofstra. Maine will send out Matt Pushard, who has a 1.80 ERA in five innings with no decision.
Sunday vs. Villanova 10am
Villanova had a challenging opening weekend. They traveled to Phoenix to face #13 Arizona State. They acquitted themselves well, losing the opener 4-1 but taking game two 2-1 before losing the finale 6-4. Pat O’Neill batted .400 for the weekend while Dylan McNary hit their lone home run.
Purdue has not set a starter yet for Sunday, but there is a good chance it will be Jackson Smeltz, Jett Jackson, or James Kulak. Brandon Siegenthaler was their third starter last week and was roughed up, giving up three runs in two innings.
This should be a good challenge for Purdue, and getting two of three would be really good. Campbell is a potential NCAA team and Villanova certainly held its own out in Arizona. Purdue’s hitting was quite timely against Hofstra and needs to continue. Zac Fascia and Bryce Bonner were red hot last weekend while Kyle LePante was clutch with six RBI.
The biggest concern is the pitching. Purdue is facing a true ace in the opener and Purdue’s starters were not great a week ago. Cowan showed he could almost win a game by himself, but he needed a modicum of support. Purdue should be able to beat Maine, but the Villanova game is a bit of a toss-up.