Last weekend in East Lansing could be considered improvement for Purdue baseball. It was the first multi-win weekend of the year as the Boilers took one each against Penn State and Michigan State. They scored eight runs each in both wins, showing that “hitting” can reap huge benefits. In the two losses they scored two runs total.
The victories moved Purdue to 6-15 on the year with 23 games left. That means a 16-7 finish is what is needed to get to .500. That is unlikely, but we still need to build for the future at this point. Purdue can also begin a crawl out of the cellar this weekend too. They are currently 12th only ahead of 4-17 Minnesota, but 8-12 Illinois and 8-13 Penn State are within striking distance. This weekend’s series will be at Illinois, as Purdue will face Michigan State (11-11) two more times and the Illini twice in another hybrid four-game series.
Vs. Michigan State – 6pm
Vs. Michigan State – 1pm
At Illinois - 5pm
At Illinois - 4pm
Purdue is fresh off of beating Michigan State, where Cory Brooks was solid in 5 1/3, giving up just one run against six hits for his second win of the year. Purdue won that game 8-2 after falling in the first game with the Spartans 5-2. Ben Nisle showed signs of returning to prominence with his fourth home run of the season in the victory. He remains Purdue’s best power threat, as the Boilers have only six homers on the season. Tyler Powers has come on of late with a six-game hitting streak. He has also safely reached base in 15 consecutive games. Powers is now 8th in the conference in hitting at .364 and Miles Simington is 13th at .355.
Overall, the hitting has been better. Purdue has risen to 11th as a team and is now batting .244. The Boilers are still last in runs scored and last in home runs, but when you score one run total in four of the first six games of the year it is hard to make up ground.
Pitching has mostly been a disaster and Purdue really misses Steve holm, who is doing well as the head coach at Illinois State. Purdue has a staff ERA of 6.31, 11th in the Big Ten, and teams are batting .292 against us.
While Purdue is most familiar with Michigan State now, Illinois presents an opportunity simply because they are about as bad as Purdue. The Illini have a team ERA of 6.51, but they are actually second in hitting at .287. Since Purdue will host Illinois for a three-game series at Alexander Field next weekend that’s five straight games Purdue has against one of the fellow bottom feeders in the conference.
We’re looking for slow progress here. Another split, or even a 3-1 weekend, would be excellent for Purdue heading into a very winnable home series next weekend. As much as Purdue has struggled it has done really well in its second game of each weekend recently. It has won four straight in that category.