March 14, 2011
Midweek Stat Pack | Game Day Central (with Live Coverage Links)
Probable Pitching Matchups
Tuesday at Vanderbilt: Joe Haase (Jr, RHP) vs. Kevin Ziomek (Fr, LHP)
Wednesday at Belmont: Blake Mascarello (Jr, LHP) vs. Brandon Frensley (Jr, LHP)
Weather Forecast for Nashville, Tenn.
Tuesday: 52 degrees, 30 percent chance of rain
Wednesday: 59 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Purdue baseball continues its eight-game spring break trip with a return to the Music City, squaring off against No. 1/2 Vanderbilt (Tuesday) and Belmont (Wednesday) for midweek matinees.
The first pitch of both contests is set for 5 p.m. (EDT). Tuesday's game is slated to be played at Vanderbilt's on-campus Hawkins Field. The Purdue-Belmont was originally scheduled for the new Rose Park facility but has been moved to Shelby Park on the banks of Cumberland River on Nashville's east side.
The Boilermakers (11-3) will be in search of their fourth victory against a nationally-ranked team Tuesday. Vanderbilt took over the top spot in this week's National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association Top 30 rankings. The Commodores (16-1) have won nine straight games since suffering their lone loss of the season, Feb. 27 versus Stanford.
Purdue has not played a No. 1-ranked opponent since taking on Texas in a 2005 three-game series in Austin. The Boilermakers are receiving votes this week in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll, but were unable to carry a nine-game win streak of their own into Tuesday's key midweek game. The long ball burned the Boilers in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday at Tennessee-Martin and a four-run lead entering the frame quickly morphed into a 10-9 loss.
But Purdue has played some of its best baseball against the highest level of competition this season. Joe Haase is scheduled to start on the mound again Tuesday a week after finishing just one out shy of a complete-game victory at nationally-ranked Louisville last week. The Boilers closed out the win to improve to 3-1 versus BIG EAST opponents but have not beaten a Southeastern Conference team since 2007 at Georgia.
The Commodores may have lost just once this season but they've played in their fair share of close games. While scoring more than 10 runs just once so far in 2011, nine of Vandy's 16 wins have come in games decided by two runs or less. The Commodores swept Brown and Illinois-Chicago the last two weekends, but did not dismantle either opponent at Hawkins Field - outscoring Brown, 15-9, and UIC, 16-10, over the course of the three-game series.
Vanderbilt's pitching has led the way early this season, compiling a 2.61 team ERA and .227 batting average against. Left-hander Kevin Ziomek is expected to start. He gave up two runs while striking out six over 3 2/3 innings in his start last week against Kennesaw State. Purdue has not faced a left-handed starting pitcher since the opener of the Lipscomb series, March 4 in Nashville.
Both Vanderbilt and Belmont (7-9) have played a number of opponents that Purdue will take on later this season. The Commodores defeated the Bruins Feb. 23 in the midweek opener for both teams. The final two games of the Vandy-UIC series were one-run affairs. The Boilermakers will take on the Flames April 20 and May 17.
Belmont spilt a four-game series with Illinois State during the season-opening weekend and lost to Tennessee Tech at home March 1. Purdue hosts Illinois State for the home opener at Lambert Field on March 22 and closes out its spring break trip this weekend with a three-game series at Tennessee Tech.
The Bruins compete in the Atlantic Sun Conference and have already played league series against Mercer and Kennesaw State. Belmont hosts Western Kentucky Tuesday for game No. 9 of its current 14-game homestand.