The 2021 season has shifted for Purdue. With a 3-11 start dreams of a Big Ten title or NCAA Tournament berth are out the window. There are no non-conference games to raise the league’s RPI, so we have no idea how league members would do against the nation‘s best. There are 28 games left, and Purdue would have to go 18-10 just to reach .500. It is clearly a developmental year now. This team is building toward 2022 and beyond, so let’s just enjoy the ride.
It continues this weekend when Our Most Hated Rivals Iowa (7-8) come to Alexander Field.
Iowa (7-8) at Purdue (3-11)
Friday to Sunday, April 2 to 4 / BTN+
Series Opener: Friday, April 2 at 4 p.m. ET
Middle Game: Saturday, April 3 at 2 p.m. ET
Series Finale: Sunday, April 4 at 1 p.m. ET
Alexander Field / West Lafayette, Indiana
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Calvin Schapira (Jr, LHP) vs. Iowa’s Trenton Wallace (R-Jr, LHP)
Saturday: Jackson Smeltz (R-So, LHP) vs. Iowa’s Drew Irvine (R-So, RHP)
Sunday: Trent Johnson (Sr, RHP) vs. Iowa’s Cam Baumann (R-Jr, LHP)
All-Time: Iowa leads 99-65-1
All-Time in West Lafayette: Iowa leads 45-39-1
Last Series: Iowa won 2 of 3 (April 2019 in West Lafayette)
Purdue’s Last Series Win: Purdue swept a 3-game set (May 2011)
First Meeting: Purdue 5, Iowa 2 (May 1902 in West Lafayette)
Purdue is mixing up the rotation this week. Calvin Schapira was excellent on Saturday last week against Rutgers, so he moves into the Friday slot. Jackson Smeltz, who was the winning pitcher in two of Purdue’s three wins, will make his first start of the season and second of his career on Saturday. Sunday will see Trent Johnson, the former Friday starer go.
Things won’t change though until Purdue gets consistency. It is currently 12th in the conference in hitting with a .229 average, 12th in pitching with a 6.71 ERA, and 12th in fielding with 20 errors. So Purdue is struggling to hit, field, and pitch, but other than that they have been great. Purdue at least doubled its season home run total last week when Cam Thompson had a ninth inning grand slam on Friday and Mason Gavre had a three run walk-off homer on Saturday.
Iowa’s pitching staff has been pretty good. They boast a staff ERA of 4.15 and they have kept them in games. They took a game from league leading Michigan in the season’s opening series and 2 of 5 from a good Nebraska team. They come to Purdue on a three game win streak after beating Ohio State and Maryland last weekend. Tyler Snep leads them with a .393 batting average. Ben Norman provides the power with 5 home runs and 13 RBI. Brayden Frazier has also hit well, batting .344.
As much as Purdue has struggled this year, the last two weeks have been better. They have been in some games and even pulled out a couple of wins. The next step is to get that first series win of the year. The offense continues to be a hindrance and two of Purdue’s three wins have come in the final at bat of the game. This needs to be a week where the Boilers can string some hits together.