Probable Pitching Matchups Friday vs. Samford: Brad Schreiber (Jr, RHP) vs. SU's Eric Wright (LHP)
Friday vs. MSU: Jordan Minch (Fr, LHP) vs. MSU's Jacob Lindgren (So, LHP)
Saturday vs. MSU: Robert Ramer (Sr, RHP) vs. MSU's Kendall Graveman (Sr, RHP)
Sunday vs. Samford: Kyle Wood (RS-Fr, LHP) vs. SU's Alex Milazzo (Jr, RHP)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- As Purdue baseball travels to Starkville, Miss., for the first time since the 1987 NCAA Regionals, the Boilermakers have another four-game weekend on tap at the Diamond Classic at Dudy Noble Field.
The three-team field of No. 5 Mississippi State (5-0), Samford (4-1) and Purdue (2-2) is comprised of three teams that earned automatic bids to the 2012 NCAA Tournament by winning the postseason tournaments of their respective conferences. They were a combined 126-61 a year ago.
The Boilermakers take on Samford Friday at 3:30 p.m. ET and Sunday at noon ET. The two teams are scheduled to play five times over the next two weeks, with Purdue visiting the SU campus in the Birmingham suburb of Homewood, Ala., next weekend for a three-game series.
Mississippi State is ranked as high as fifth nationally in the Baseball America Top 25 poll, representing the Boilers' second top-five opponent of the young season. Purdue takes on the Bulldogs at 7 p.m. ET Friday and Saturday evening.
The Boilermakers' 15th-year head coach Doug Schreiber is set to coach in career games No. 792 and 793 at Purdue Friday. In doing so, he will eclipse Dave Alexander's program record for games as head coach. Schreiber played for Alexander from 1983-86 and surpassed his skipper's all-record for victories (407) in April of last season.
Alexander was the leader of the Boilers when they earned an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament Regionals and were sent to Starkville for the 1987 postseason. Current senior Angelo Cianfrocco's father Archi was the team's standout shortstop that season and later selected in the 1987 MLB First-Year Player Draft. The 1987 Boilers dropped games to Texas A&M and Western Carolina at the Starkville Regional in what was the program's only NCAA Tournament appearance until last season.
Meanwhile, Purdue will be making its first appearance in the state of Mississippi since getting swept in a three-game series at Ole Miss in March 2005.
The Boilermakers' season-opening weekend at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge was highlighted by a seven-run inning, three-run homer from Conner Hudnall, some gutsy pitching against No. 4 Louisville by Kyle Wood in his Purdue debut and a complete-game victory by senior Robert Ramer. Hudnall became the last Boiler to homer in a season opener since Cameron Perkins in 2010, who was also the last player to go deep in his team debut. Josh Estill and Wood started games at three different positions. Wood batted sixth in the lineup as the starting pitcher in the game against Louisville. In doing so, he became the first Purdue player since Daniel Underwood in 2003 to bat in the lineup in the same game in which he was the starting pitcher.
A year ago, the Boilers played in a four-team tournament hosted by the University of Auburn. Purdue's Friday evening victory against the host Tigers represented the program's first win against a Southeastern Conference opponent since defeating Georgia in the middle game of a February 2007 series in Athens. The Boilermakers have not played Mississippi State since 1936.
Samford and MSU are also scheduled to play twice this weekend. They met as recently as the 2012 Tallahassee Regional, at which Samford won both meetings.
The last time Purdue played the Samford Bulldogs they were still a member of the Ohio Valley Conference. The Boilermakers won two-of-three in Birmingham during an eight-game spring break trip through Alabama in March 2007. The Samford program has been on the rise since winning the OVC regular-season title in 2006, later joining the Southern Conference in time for the 2009 baseball season and making its first Regional appearance last year.
Mississippi State boasts a rich baseball history that features prominent alumni like Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro, Jonathan Papelbon, Jeff Brantley and Bobby Thigpen, who went on to enjoy successful Major League careers. The Bulldogs have eight College World Series appearances, their last coming in 2007. After missing out on the NCAA Regionals from 2008 through 2010, MSU has been back in the postseason the last two years.
Dudy Noble Field-DeMent Stadium is one of the largest on-campus baseball facilities in the country and set an NCAA record with a crowd of nearly 15,000 fans for a big Southeastern Conference doubleheader against Florida in 1989. The No. 5 preseason ranking for MSU this year was its highest since 1989.
Mississippi State opened its new season with a four-game sweep of Portland and then shutout Grambling 2-0 in a midweek game Tuesday. The Bulldogs have surrendered only three runs in their first five games. Probable MSU starting pitchers vs. Purdue, Jacob Lindgren and Kendall Graveman, both started NCAA Regional games last year and earned wins against Portland during the season-opening weekend with quality starts. Shortstop Adam Frazier, outfielder Hunter Renfroe and closer Jonathan Holder were all preseason All-Americans.
Samford is led by standout outfielder Phillip Ervin, a preseason All-American and the SoCon Preseason Player of the Year. He batted .330 with 18 doubles, nine home runs, 45 RBI and 14 stolen bases as a sophomore. C.K. Irby is the team's top two-way player and could start Friday against the Boilers. He closed out the two wins against MSU at the Tallahassee Regional last season.
Samford won three-of-four against Youngstown State at home during the season-opening weekend and defeated Alabama A&M in midweek action Tuesday. The Bulldogs have posted a double-figure run total in three of their first five games.