TOURNAMENT INFORMATION: ALAMO IRISH CLASSIC
Purdue (3-0) vs. Saint Louis (1-3), Incarnate Word (2-2) and Notre Dame (2-1)
Friday to Sunday, Feb. 23 to 25 / Nelson Wolff Stadium / San Antonio, Texas
vs. Saint Louis / Friday, Feb. 23 at 1 p.m. ET
vs. Incarnate Word / Friday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.m.
vs. No. 30 Notre Dame / Saturday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m.
Championship or Consolation Game / Sunday, Feb. 25 at Noon
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Gareth Stroh (Jr, LHP) vs. SLU's Jackson Wark (Jr, RHP)
Friday: Nick Wojtysiak (Sr, LHP) vs. Luke Taggert (So, RHP)
Saturday: Tanner Andrews (Sr, RHP) vs. UND's Tommy Sheehan (Fr, LHP)
Sunday: Ryan Beard (Sr, LHP) vs. TBD
vs. Saint Louis: Purdue leads 4-2 / Last Meeting: Purdue swept 2-game series (2017)
vs. Incarnate Word: First Meeting
vs. Notre Dame: UND leads 79-39-3 / Last Meeting: Purdue 15, Notre Dame 8 (2012)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue baseball continues its revised season-opening stretch of neutral-site games with its first action at a minor league ballpark in three seasons, taking on Notre Dame, Saint Louis and Incarnate Word in San Antonio.
The Alamo Irish Classic is a four-day, eight-game tournament at Nelson Wolff Stadium, the home of the San Antonio Missions of Texas League. The San Diego Padres Double-A affiliate is slated to move up to the Triple-A level for 2019.
The tournament opens Thursday with Notre Dame taking on both SLU and Incarnate Word. Purdue plays twice on Friday and all four teams have a single game scheduled for Saturday. Sunday's championship and consolation games will be contested at two different fields. Notre Dame is slated to play at Wolff Stadium regardless. The other game will be played at UIW's Sullivan Field.
Incarnate Word transitioned to the Division I level during the 2013-14 school year, joining the Southland Conference. The Boilermakers are set to play Saint Louis for the third season in a row. They'll also visit the Gateway to the West for a weekend series (March 16-18) on their spring break trip.
Gareth Stroh is slated to take the ball against the Billikens for the second year in a row. He worked six innings of two-run ball against SLU at Alexander Field last year, an outing that was his second of five straight in which he worked at least six innings. The Boilermakers won Stroh's start vs. SLU in walk-off fashion on Harry Shipley's two-out single in the ninth.
Purdue has not played Notre Dame since the 2012 Big East/Big Ten Challenge. That victory was part of the Boilermakers' last 3-0 start.
The Fighting Irish made headlines last weekend by winning their season-opening series at No. 9 LSU. Notre Dame is hosting the tournament in San Antonio for the fifth year in a row. Incarnate Word has been part of the field every year and SLU is participating for the second season in a row. The Billikens went 4-0 in San Antonio last year, beating UND twice to win the tournament.
Purdue's last games in an MiLB stadium were at the 2015 Kleberg Bank College Classic, also held the second week of the season in Texas. Highlighted by a wild doubleheader sweep of Sam Houston State, the Boilermakers went 2-2 at Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, another Double-A ballpark in the Texas League. Alec Olund scored the game-winning run in the 12th inning of a walk-off win vs. SHSU. Evan Kennedy, Mike Kornacker and Shipley are the other active Boilermakers that played in that tournament.
Skyler Hunter and Jacson McGowan both hit safely, scored a run and drove in a run in all three games of the season-opening sweep of Western Michigan. It was a natural accomplishment for McGowan after he homered in all three games. Hunter drove in Purdue's first run of both the series opener and finale. He also drove in the go-ahead run in the nightcap of the season-opening doubleheader. They've both been very productive to begin the last two seasons, helping the Boilermakers split a four-game series at Texas State to begin the 2017 campaign. Hunter has accounted for more hits than outs.
McGowan in last 2 season openers: 5-for-9, 2 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R
Hunter in last 2 season-opening series: 14-for-26 (.538), 7 RBI, 7 R, .586 OBP
McGowan in last 2 season-opening series: 12-for-31 (.387), 4 2B, 3 HR, 15 RBI, 6 R, .903 Slug
Tanner Andrews has been equally impressive on the mound to open the last two seasons. He helped lead Purdue to consecutive season-opening wins for the first time since 2011 to 2013 by working 13 2/3 innings of one-run ball, surrendering just seven hits while recording 18 strikeouts vs. one walk.
Andrews excelled as Purdue's Friday starter throughout the 2017 campaign. However, he'll pitch on Saturday again this weekend to matchup with Notre Dame and is projected to take on the mound Saturday of next weekend's tournament at Stetson. Virginia Tech, another Atlantic Coast Conference team, is the opponent next Saturday.
NATIVE TEXANS RETURN HOME
The Boilermakers have four Texas natives on their roster this season. They were supposed to return to their home state each of the first two weekends of the season, but the road trip to Baylor was scrapped after Purdue's flight from Chicago Midway to Dallas Love was canceled last week.
Catcher Bryce Bonner (Allen) and reliever Cameron Williams (Seabrook) were both key contributors to last year's 19-win turnaround as newcomers. Bonner (4-for-5, 3B, 4 RBI, 3 BB) put together eight productive plate appearances in his nine trips to the dish over the final two games of the Texas State series a year ago.
Junior college transfers Trevor Cheaney (Muenster) and Nick Evarts (Colleyville) both contributed to the series-opening sweep of WMU that replaced the Baylor series. Cheaney induced an inning-ending 6-3 double play to escape a bases-loaded jam with the tying run at the plate in the top of the eighth of Sunday's victory. Evarts started all three games at second base,
QUICK LOOK AT SAINT LOUIS
Saint Louis finished the 2017 season strong after visiting Alexander the final weekend of April. The Billikens went 11-6 in May, with three of those losses coming against a Davidson team that went on to win an NCAA Regional at North Carolina. SLU rallied through the loser's bracket of the Atlantic 10 Tournament, reaching the championship round before losing to Davidson in extra innings.
Returning starters Jake Garella (8-for-16, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 R) and Parker Sniatynski (6-for-16, 6 XBH, 5 RBI, 4 R) both enjoyed productive season-opening weekends. James Morisano homered twice after connecting for a team-high 12 long balls last season.
QUICK LOOK AT INCARNATE WORD
The Cardinals split a four-game series with North Dakota State to begin the season. First-year head coach Patrick Hallmark was hired in July after stints as an assistant at Missouri and Rice. Nineteen different players started at least one game in the NDSU series. Kyle Bergeron led the way at the plate, finishing the weekend 5-for-15 with a double and four RBI while playing clean defense at second base.
Right-hander Bernie Martinez was UIW's season-opening starter and will take the ball again Thursday vs. Notre Dame. The Cardinals' Friday starter hasn't been announced yet. Luke Taggert (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 7 K) and reliever John Shull (7 1/3 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K over 2 appearances) were their most effective pitchers last weekend.
QUICK LOOK AT NOTRE DAME
The Fighting Irish reached an NCAA Regoinal in 2015 and were above .500 in ACC play the following season, but struggled to a 10-20 league record last season. Notre Dame did manage to win 16 non-conference games a year ago despite starting the season 1-8. But the Irish are off to a nice start this year, outscoring LSU 27-15 in last weekend's series victory in Baton Rouge. UND is ranked 30th in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper poll this week.
Nick Podkul reached base safely in 12 of his 16 plate appearances at LSU, driving in six runs and scoring four times. He and Matt Vierling, who led the team with a .330 average, 20 doubles and 42 RBI a year ago, were the only UND players to start every game last season. Eric Gilgenbach matched him home run total from 2017 with three long balls in Baton Rouge. He went deep twice and drove in seven of the Irish's 11 runs in the rubber game win.
Freshman lefty Tommy Sheenhan won his collegiate debut with five innings of four-run ball in game two of the LSU series. His brother Jack is a sophomore relief pitcher for the Irish. Relievers Cole Kmet (4 IP) and Andrew Belcik (2 1/3 IP) teamed up for 6 2/3 innings of two-hit relief at LSU, both pitchers earning a save while closing out a win. Belcik has already pitched more innings than last season.