1997 Review

The 1997 season was an exciting one for the Boilermakers. Purdue finished the season with a 30-25 overall record and a 17-11 mark in the Big Ten to tie for thrid in the conference. The Boilers reached the conference tournament for the third time in five years. Head coach Steve Green watched his team finish the season in strong fashion, winning 22 of their last 25 games.

Statistically, the Boilermakers improved in nearly every category over the 1996 season. The '97 Boilers hit .306, an increase of .039 over the previous season. Purdue also hit 39 more doubles and 24 more home runs. The pitching staff struck out 356 hitters as opposed to 297 in '96. Defensively, Purdue finished eighth in the nation with a .966 team fielding percentage.

A school-record 13 of Green's student-athletes were named Academic All-Big Ten. For the third straight season, second baseman Rod Metzler was an GTE Academic All-America selection, while a conference-leading eight Boilermakers were named All-Big Ten.

On the field, Mike Hedman and Anthony Grieco had career years for Purdue. Hedman was a first team All-Big Ten selection, posting a 6-4 overall record and a 2.87 ERA. Grieco, who entered the season with only 108 career at-bats, was the team MVP and a third team All-Big Ten pick after hitting .389 with 11 home runs and 49 RBI.

Three Boilermakers were selected in the June amateur draft. Metzler was taken in the 21st round by Kansas City, while pitcher Jason Howard was selected by the Detroit Tigers in the 15th round. Pitcher Chris Bloomer, Purdue career strikout leader, was taken in the 42nd round by the expansion Arizona Diamondbacks. The Boilermakers got a lot of help last season from the freshman class. Shortstop Daryl Hallada hit .324 in his first season of action and played stellar defense. Pitcher Jeremy Ballard was also impressive, posting a 3-1 record as a reliever. Left-hander Russ Morgan led the team with two complete-game shutouts, and Mike Rose and Chris Walker gave Purdue depth in the outfield.

Purdue struggled to reach the .500 mark early in the season, starting off the year with three losses to Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas. The Boilers scored 16 runs in the series but allowed 35.

Entering the spring trip to Florida, Purdue stood at 1-4. The Boilers opened the road swing with a double-header sweep of Stetson. Purdue closed the trip with another twinbill sweep over Liberty. However, the Boilermakers lost five in a row before the Liberty series and entered the home opener with a 5-9 record.

Purdue won the 1997 Lambert Field debut with a 9-2 win over Valparaiso and followed up splitting a four-game series with Michigan.

The Boilers stalled briefly, losing eight straight games and falling to 8-18. What followed was one of the best streaks a team could ever dream of.

After losing the series opener to Illinois, Purdue dominated the Illini the final three games. Grieco powered the Boilers, going 11-for-15 with three home runs and 12 RBI in the four-game series.

The momentum continued through the Michigan State series, as the Purdue took three-of-four from the Spartans in West Lafayette. Jeff Reder allowed only one run in seven innings of relief in Game 3 to pick up the victory.

After a loss to Notre Dame and a win over Ball State, Purdue split a series with Northwestern in Evanston, Ill. Hedman tossed a complete-game shutout in Game 1, and Bloomer struck out 10 in Game 2.

Morgan tossed the first of his two shutouts, as Purdue pounded Indiana State 15-0. The Boilers then defeated Butler 6-1 behind Ryan Cole's 4-for-4 performance.

Purdue won three games against Iowa at Lambert Field. The Game 4 victory began the Boilers nine-game winning streak to close out the regular season.

A 9-8 victory over Western Michigan put Purdue at the .500 mark for the first time all season. The next day, Purdue went over the break-even point with a 5-3 win over Valparaiso.

The Boilermakers finished the Big Ten season with a series sweep of intrastate rival Indiana. Game 1 began in Bloomington, but was continued the next day in West Lafayette due to rain. Reder set a conference record, winning the first game in relief and then saving both ends of the scheduled double-header the same day.

Purdue closed out the regular season with a pair of victories over IUPU-Indianapolis. Morgan threw his second shutout of the season in a 10-0 win.

In the Big Ten Tournament hosted by Michigan, the Boilermakers lost to Ohio State 4-2 and Illinois 8-3.


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