Purdue Begins Spring Break with Wraparound Series at SDSU

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Sunday starter Connor Podkul also started game three of Purdue's 2012 series at UCLA in the program's last trip to California.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Sunday starter Connor Podkul also started game three of Purdue's 2012 series at UCLA in the program's last trip to California.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

March 13, 2014


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Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday: Jordan Minch (So, LHP) vs. SDSU's Mike RoBards (Jr, LHP)
Saturday: Gavin Downs (So, RHP) vs. SDSU's Bubba Derby (So, RHP)
Sunday: Connor Podkul (So, RHP) vs. SDSU's Mark Seyler (So, RHP)
Monday: TBA vs. TBA

Weekend Weather Forecast for San Diego
Friday: 67 degrees, clear skies
Saturday: 73 degrees, clear skies
Sunday: 83 degrees , clear skies
Monday: 76 degrees, clear skies

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue baseball begins spring break with its longest road trip of the season, flying to the West Coast for a four-game weekend wraparound series at first-time opponent San Diego State.

The Aztecs' home field is named after its head coach, program alumnus, MLB Hall of Famer and San Diego legend Tony Gwynn. First pitch at Tony Gwynn Stadium is set for 9 p.m. ET on Friday, Saturday and Monday. Sunday's matinee gets underway at 4 p.m. ET.

The Boilermakers' four San Diego-area natives -- sophomores Kyle Johnson and Michael Mullen along with freshmen Hayden Grant and Jordan Lewis -- return home this weekend. There were as many as six players from San Diego on the roster during fall practice.

Purdue (1-10) is visiting the state of California for the first time since a May 2012 series at UCLA. Three California natives -- including San Diego native Angelo Cianfrocco -- were part of the 2012 Big Ten championship team. During head coach Doug Schreiber's 16-year tenure, the Boilers also traveled west to California in 2001 and 2002. The 2001 spring break trip featured a game at the University of San Diego, marking the team's last trip to the area.

San Diego State (12-4) won the Mountain West Conference Tournament last season as the No. 3 seed, defeating regular-season champion New Mexico twice in the finals. The Aztecs were selected as a co-favorite in the league's preseason poll this year and won two-of-three in each of their first four weekends this season.

SDSU presents just the latest challenge for a Purdue team that has gone up against some of the country's top teams this season and ranks No. 2 nationally in strength of schedule in the Boyd's World ISR. The Boilermakers' 2014 opponents had compiled a 168-111-1 (.602) record through games on March 11.

Purdue has not played a four-game series against the same opponent since the second weekend of the 2012 spring break trip at Wichita State. Four-game series used to be a regular part of the schedule. Big Ten weekend series were four-game sets throughout the 1980s, 90s and much of the first decade of this century. The conference went to three-game weekends beginning in 2009, doing away with the Saturday doubleheaders that featured a pair of seven-inning games.

Gwynn played both basketball and baseball at San Diego State from 1977-81 and was actually recruited to campus as an accomplished point guard. After being selected in the 1981 MLB Draft by the San Diego Padres, he reached the big leagues in July of the following summer. The eight-time National League batting champ was also a five-time Gold Glove outfielder from 1986-91. He finished his MLB career in 2001 with a .338 batting average 3,141 hits, 790 walks vs. 434 strikeouts and 319 stolen bases.

Now in his 12th season as the head coach of his alma mater, Gwynn was named head coach during the final month of his MLB career and officially took the program's reigns in the summer of 2002. New SDSU pitching coach John Pawlowski was the head coach at Auburn when Purdue played there in March of 2012.

The Mountain West features a double round robin conference schedule. The Aztecs actually opened their season with a league series at San Jose State and hosted conference rival Nevada last weekend. Third baseman Ty France (.450, 9 2B, 4 HR, 21 RBI) and second baseman Tim Zier (.369, 5 XBH, 15 RBI) have led the way offensively. Sunday starter Mark Seyler (2.28 ERA, 26 Ks in 27 2/3 IP, .213 batting avg. against) and closer Michael Cederoth (6 saves, 4 hits allowed and 17 Ks in 14 1/3 IP) have been the standout performers on the mound.

The rest of Purdue's spring break features Wednesday's home opener against Butler (March 19) and a weekend series at Southern Illinois (March 21-23). Purdue's next two weekend opponents after SDSU, SIU and Illinois, play each other this weekend in Carbondale.