No. 19 Boilermakers Host Penn State For First Home Weekend Series of 2012

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Barrett Serrato has recorded 15 of his 19 RBIs with two outs this season.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Barrett Serrato has recorded 15 of his 19 RBIs with two outs this season.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

March 29, 2012


Game Notes | Listen | Game Day Central (with live coverage links)

Alexander Field Construction Progress Photo Gallery

Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday: Joe Haase (Sr, RHP) vs. PSU's John Walter (Jr, RHP)
Saturday: Lance Breedlove (Sr, RHP) vs. PSU's Joe Kurrasch (So, LHP)
Sunday: Calvin Gunter (Sr, LHP) vs. PSU's Steven Hill (Jr, RHP)

Weekend Weather Forecast for West Lafayette, Ind.
Friday: 71 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain
Saturday: 65 degrees, 10 percent chance of rain
Sunday: 83 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain

Series History
All-Time Series: Purdue leads 37-26
2011: Purdue took 3-of-4, winning 2-of-3 in University Park & the Big Ten Tourney game
Purdue Under Doug Schreiber vs. Penn State: Purdue leads 31-20 (Since 1999)
Last Series in West Lafayette: Purdue swept a three-game series (2010)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - No. 19 Purdue baseball closes out its weeklong five-game homestand with its first series of the year at Lambert Field, welcoming Penn State to campus for the second Big Ten weekend of the season.

First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.

Purdue head coach Doug Schreiber enters the weekend with 398 career wins. A series win would give the 14th-year leader of the program his third notable milestone win against the Nittany Lions (7-16, 1-2 Big Ten). Schreiber also recorded career wins No. 100 and 300 in games against Penn State. Meanwhile, the Purdue alumnus continues to close in on Dave Alexander's all-time record (407) for wins as the head coach of the Boilermakers.

After posting midweek wins against No. 15 Louisville and IPFW earlier this week, Purdue (18-4, 2-1) improved to 13-3 in March. Along with Schreiber reaching the 400-win benchmark, the Boilers also have an opportunity this weekend to post their 20th win by April 1. Granted, the Feb. 18 season start date was among the earliest in program history, but no Purdue team has ever won 20 games by April 1. The 1991 team had an opportunity to accomplish the feat but lost the nightcap of a March 31 doubleheader at Michigan State after posting win No. 19 earlier in the day.

The Boilermakers entered the week leading the nation with a .349 team batting average. However, they batted only .190 (12-for-63) as a team while winning their midweek home games against Louisville and IPFW. Too many fly balls were a bit of an issue, as Purdue was retired on fly balls on 28 of the 52 outs it made in those games.

Cameron Perkins connected for his 20th career home run Wednesday, leading off the seventh inning against IPFW with a game-tying blast to left field. He joined Sean McHugh as active Boilers to hit the first long ball of the season at Lambert Field. The junior became the 15th player in program history with 20 career home runs. Meanwhile, after hitting safely and scoring a run in all three games of the Ohio State series last weekend in Columbus, Perkins has now reached base safely in 45 consecutive Big Ten games dating back to 2010.

Kevin Plawecki and Barrett Serrato have teamed up with Perkins to give Purdue one of the most formidable 3-4-5 lineup combinations in the country. Plawecki has reached base safely in 17 consecutive games. At Ohio State, he had two hits, recorded an RBI and scored a run in all three games. Serrato continues to be very dangerous in a run-producing role. Fifteen of his 19 RBIs this season have come with two outs. The senior has recorded 17 of his 32 hits with a runner in scoring position.

Along with Schreiber's pursuit of 400 wins, century-mark career milestones for Blake Mascarello (99 career strikeouts), Tyler Spillner (98 career RBIs) and Stephen Talbott (98 career hits) could be achieved this weekend as well.

The Boilermakers have enjoyed a high level of success against Penn State during Schreiber's tenure. Purdue's 31 victories and .608 winning percentage vs. PSU represent the team's top marks against any Big Ten rival since 1999. After winning three of the four games last year and sweeping the Lions at Lambert in 2010, the Boilers have won 12 of the last 15 meetings. During PSU's Big Ten era (1994-present), Purdue has only lost one home series (2003) with Penn State.

The Nittany Lions struggled early this season, suffering through a 1-9 stretch while playing their first 17 games on the road. Penn State went 4-2 during its recent six-game homestand but lost two-of-three to Indiana last weekend. Games two and three were tight one-run affairs after the Hoosiers rolled to a 14-2 series-opening win.

Purdue faced PSU's game one probable starter John Walter twice last season. The right-hander was effectively wild in game two of the regular-season series in University Park, limiting the Boilers to two runs on one hit while walking eight. Purdue was able to score four runs against him five innings in an opening-day win at the Big Ten Tournament.

Projected game three starter Steven Hill will pitch deep into games (39 innings in six starts) and throws a high percentage of strikes (eight walks). University of California transfer Joe Kurrasch, a left-hander, recently joined the weekend rotation and is expected to start game two.

Penn State returned a number of starting position players that put up big numbers last year. But the Lions are batting just .230 as team this year, averaging 3.8 runs per game. First baseman Jordan Steranka (.330, 3 HR, 11 RBI) is the only PSU player batting above .300. But Sean Deegan and Joey DeBernardis are back this year after leading the Big Ten in home runs and doubles, respectively, last season.

Purdue has won six straight home games dating back to a May 17, 2011, midweek win against Illinois-Chicago.