College baseball is back! Purdue got off to a decent start in 2020 under new coach Greg Goff. The Boilers went 6-1 in their first seven games, winning the Campbell Invitational before losing six straight (four to top 25 teams) and winning 19-1 at Western Kentucky on March 8th to get to 7-7.
Then, of course, the world went to hell.
Well, the good news is that a new season is almost here. College baseball’s uniform start date is always the third weekend in February and things kickoff around the country in two days, highlighted by a top 10 season opening series when Miami goes to Florida. Purdue will have to wait a little while longer, but the Big Ten has approved a 44 game conference-only schedule due to COVID-19 that will be unique, to say the least.
Purdue will end up playing 16 hame games, 16 road games, as 12 neutral site games in far flung locations because, well, Alexander Field is currently under a foot of snow.
March 5-7 - Nebraska - Round Rock, Texas (4 games)
March 12-14 - Michigan - Greenville, South Carolina (4 games)
March 19-21 - at Indiana (3 games)
March 26-28 - Rutgers (3 games)
April 2-4 - Iowa (3 games)
April 9-11 - at Michigan St. (2 games), vs. Penn State (2 games) - East Lansing, Michigan
April 16-18 - at Illinois (2 games), vs. Michigan State (2 games) - Champaign, Illinois
April 23-25 - Illinois (3 games)
April 30- May 2 - at Ohio State (3 games)
May 7-9 - Northwestern (3 games)
May 14-16 - at Maryland (3 games)
May 21-23 - at Minnesota (3 games)
May 28-30 - Penn State (2 games) and Minnesota (2 games) - West Lafayette, Indiana
A few things to note here. First, there will be no Big Ten Tournament, as conference tournaments are usually that Memorial Day weekend. That means the conference champ will get the automatic bid to the NCAAs, but the Big Ten has been a multi-bid league for several years now. Second, Purdue will play all 12 Big Ten schools (remember, Wisconsin does not have a team) at least 3 times. Third, all games will be played as part of Friday-Saturday-Sunday weekend series. However, Mondays will remain an option if agreed upon by both teams and as a backup in case of weather. Finally, the Round Rock and Greenville games will be played in minor league stadiums.
According to Purdue’s release an official policy regarding attendance at Alexander Field is still pending, but it is expected to be limited to family members of players and coaches. That tells me there is at least a small chance fans could be allowed to attend, especially as vaccine rates go up and COVID numbers go down. It may not happened at the March games, but in late May? Maybe.
Fans at sporting events. What an idea!