March 6, 2014
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday: Jordan Minch (So, LHP) vs. LSU's Aaron Nola (Jr, RHP)
Saturday: Gavin Downs (So, RHP) vs. LSU's Kyle Bouman (Jr, LHP)
Sunday: Connor Podkul (So, RHP) vs. LSU's Cody Glenn (Jr, LHP)
Weekend Weather Forecast for Baton Rouge, La.
Friday: 65 degrees, clear skies
Saturday: 68 degrees, clear skies
Sunday: 62 degrees, 30 percent chance of rain
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- As Purdue baseball travels to the state of Louisiana for the first time since its opening weekend of the 2006 season, the Boilermakers will square off against the first of the three 2013 College World Series qualifiers on their schedule this year - the No. 4/7 LSU Tigers.
The three-game series at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., features game times of 8 p.m. Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday (all times ET). Although two of Purdue's first eight games finished under the lights, Friday and Saturday will be its first two true night games of the season.
With a capacity of 10,326 at Alex Box Stadium, LSU has led the nation in attendance each of the last 14 seasons. The Boilermakers (1-7) have not played in Baton Rouge since 1950, making it one of the few Southeastern Conference cities they have not visited during head coach Doug Schreiber's tenure. Following this weekend, Arkansas and Texas A&M - the latter in only its second year as a SEC member - will be the only SEC teams Purdue has not played under Schreiber. After being unable to get a win in its season-opening series at Tennessee, the Boilers will be in search of their first victory vs. a SEC team since March 2012 at Auburn.
The Tigers (10-2 as of March 5) began a busy stretch Wednesday in which they were scheduled to play seven games in eight days. Tuesday's game at Northwestern State was rescheduled for Thursday due inclement weather. LSU defeated Sacred Heart, 8-1, Wednesday evening.
Paul Mainieri is in his eighth year as the head coach of the Tigers. He led LSU to the national title in 2009 as well as the College World Series in 2008 and 2013. Mainieri was the coach of Notre Dame from 1996 through 2005. Purdue went 2-8 against Mainieri's UND teams, including a 1-3 mark under Doug Schreiber.
LSU's projected game two starter, left-hander Kyle Bouman, is another Tiger the Boilers have previously seen in another uniform. Bouman began his college career at Wichita State and faced Purdue as the last of four WSU pitchers used in the opener of a 2012 series in Kansas. Kyle Upp was the only current Boiler to face Bouman in the 8-3 victory for Purdue.
Upp is 4-for-14 with four walks and three RBI while starting each of the last four games at designated hitter.
Bouman has impressed in his first season in Baton Rouge. He has won each of his first three starts, working 18 innings of two-run ball. Aaron Nola remains the star of the LSU pitching staff. The 2013 First Team All-American has led the Tigers to shutout wins in each of his first three starts. He has racked up 24 strikeouts while surrendering just one extra-base hit in 19 innings this year.
LSU was ranked No. 1 nationally in Collegiate Baseball's Top 30 poll last week. The Tigers dropped in the polls after going 2-2 last week, losing a rain-shortened game to nationally-ranked Louisiana-Lafayette Feb. 25 in midweek action and the series finale against Yale Sunday. Despite getting shut out in the first two games of the series, the Bulldogs rallied back from a 6-0 deficit to take the finale, 8-7.
LSU's Alex Bregman was also a 2013 First Team All-American and won the Brooks Wallace Award as the nation's top collegiate shortstop. The sophomore is the only Tiger that has started each of the first 11 games this season, batting .389 with five doubles and no strikeouts.
Gavin Downs will get a chance to start on the mound Saturday for Purdue after being the team's most effective pitcher in a long relief role over the first three weekends. Downs, who ranks sixth in the Big Ten this week with a 1.72 ERA, will be making his first weekend start as a Boilermaker. He started three midweek games a year ago.
Cody Strong (reached safely in eight straight games), Sean McHugh (reached safely in seven straight games) and Mike Lutz (pitched in six straight games) enter the weekend all riding notable streaks for Purdue. The Boilermakers are expected to have Jack Amaro, Kyle Johnson, Matthew McHugh and Jack Picchiotti available after all four players did not travel to Birmingham last weekend.