Purdue Continues Spring Break Trip with Midweek Test at MVC Favorite Missouri St.

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Freshman Connor Podkul takes the ball Tuesday for his first collegiate start.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Freshman Connor Podkul takes the ball Tuesday for his first collegiate start.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

March 12, 2012


Midweek Stat Pack | Listen | Game Day Central (with live coverage links)

Probable Pitching Matchup
Connor Podkul (Fr, RHP) vs. MSU's Clay Murphy (Jr, RHP)

Series History: Purdue leads 2-0
Last Meeting: Purdue won a two-game series, 7-5 & 10-3 (2006 in Springfield)

Tuesday Evening Weather Forecast for Springfield, Mo.
76 degrees, 10 percent chance of rain

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Purdue baseball carries a seven-game win streak into its first midweek game of the young season, a road test at Missouri Valley Conference preseason favorite Missouri State Tuesday evening.

Game four of the Boilers' eight-game spring break trip will get underway at 7:30 p.m. ET at Hammons Field, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals Double-A affiliate in the Texas League. Hammons Field is also set to host the 2012 MVC Tournament in May. It will be the first of four Minor League stadiums that Purdue will play at this year.

Off to the program's first 11-1 start since 1959, the 24th-ranked Boilers joined Baseball America's Top 25 this week for the first time since 2001. Purdue also moved up to No. 26 in Collegiate Baseball's Top 30 poll after debuting at No. 29 last week. Missouri State (12-4) is also receiving votes in the USA Today/ESPN Top 25 coaches' poll.

The Boilermakers have visited Springfield, Mo., only once before, winning both games of a two-game midweek series with MSU on the 2006 spring break trip. Those games were part of a successful 6-2 spring break tour of the Show Me State, which helped the Boilers carry an 11-5 mark into Big Ten play that season.

While the Purdue offense once again dominated headlines for batting .437 as a team while scoring 40 runs in the three-game sweep of Murray State, the pitching staff also performed well. The 11 pitchers that took the mound teamed up to surrender only five runs in the series, including just one after the first inning. Defensively, the Boilers did not commit an error and turned six double plays.

Having played each of its first 12 games on weekends, Purdue has been able to use the same three starting pitchers (Joe Haase, Lance Breedlove and Calvin Gunter). Freshman Connor Podkul will receive the first opportunity to make a midweek start Tuesday. The freshman has worked a pair of scoreless innings over two appearances this year. The coaching staff believes the 6-foot-4 right-hander has a future in the weekend rotation as he matures and receives more experience at the college level. Podkul struck out 123 batters in 74 innings pitched as a senior at La Porte High School.

With Purdue's roster dominated by upperclassmen, playing time has been scarce early this year for many of the newcomers. But that could change over the next two months of the season. Beginning March 27, the Boilers will play at least one midweek game every week except final exams week (April 30-May 4) on campus.

March 3 was a landmark day for Missouri State and its 30th-year head coach Keith Guttin. The Bears defeated Northwestern State in Louisiana that day for Guttin's 1,000th career win. Guttin has been MSU's only head coach during the program's NCAA Division I era (1982-present).

Missouri State saw its six-game win streak come to an end Saturday in game one of a doubleheader against SIU Edwardsville. But the Bears have compiled a 12-2 mark since dropping their first two games of the season, highlighted by wins against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State (two). Missouri State was tabbed the preseason favorite in the MVC after welcoming back seven starting position players and seven pitchers from its 2011 team that went 33-23, including an 18-5 mark at home.

Headlined by 2006 National League MVP Ryan Howard, Missouri State has four notable alumni playing in the Big Leagues. Pitchers Ross Detwiler (Washington), Shaun Marcum (Milwaukee) and Brad Ziegler (Arizona) have established themselves on MLB mounds. Marcum and Ziegler were both members of MSU's 2003 team that reached the College World Series after winning Regionals at current Big Ten members Nebraska and Ohio State. However, the Bears have not been back to the NCAA Tournament since.

Purdue concludes its spring break trip with a Thursday through Saturday four-game series at Wichita State this weekend.