WEEKEND SERIES INFORMATION
Purdue (16-16, 4-4 B1G) at Maryland (16-20, 3-5 B1G)
Friday to Sunday, April 20 to 22 at 6:30, 2 and 1 p.m. ET / BTN Plus on BTN2Go
Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium / College Park, Maryland
All-Time Series: UMD leads 7-1 / All-Time in College Park: UMD leads 2-1
Last Meeting: UMD 5, Purdue 2 (2017 Big Ten Tournament in Bloomington)
Last Series: UMD won 2 of 3 (April 2016 in College Park)
First Meeting: UMD 11, Purdue 1 (Feb. 2012 in Greenville, N.C.)
PROBABLE PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Tanner Andrews (Sr, RHP) vs. UMD's Mark DiLuia (Fr, RHP)
Saturday: Gareth Stroh (Jr, LHP) vs. UMD's Hunter Parsons (Jr, RHP)
Sunday: Trent Johnson (Fr, RHP) vs. UMD's Tyler Blohm (So, LHP)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Purdue baseball hits the road for the final time in April, closing out the first half of its Big Ten schedule with a trip to the East Coast for a weekend series at Maryland.
First pitch at Turtle Smith Stadium in College Park is slated for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday (all times ET). Two years ago, the Boilermakers won the opener in their first visit to UMD's campus, but the Terrapins came back to win the series.
While Purdue will have played three of its first four conference weekends on the road, Maryland has had the opposite schedule. The Terps played their first two Big Ten series at home and three of their first four in College Park. Around the conference, only Indiana (19) has played more home games than UMD (18). Purdue's seven home dates remain the fewest in the league. But a season-long nine-game homestand at Alexander Field opens Tuesday.
The Boilermakers are 4-4 in Big Ten play and their next two weekend series against Maryland (3-5 B1G) and Rutgers (4-4) could prove to be very crucial in the Big Ten Tournament chase. All three teams plus Michigan State (3-5) have already had their open weekends in the league schedule and are likely going to be battling for the final two berths in the conference tournament. Purdue's final two series of the regular season are against Ohio State and Michigan, which are combined 46-21 overall this season. Going into those weekends needing series wins to make up ground in the standings would not be advised.
Maryland was picked fourth in the Big Ten preseason poll. The Terrapins have qualified for the Big Ten Tournament each of their first three years in the league and been to three NCAA Regionals dating back to 2014. Just 29 years old when he was promoted last summer, first-year skipper Rob Vaughn is the youngest head coach of any program in a Power 5 conference. He helped UMD achieve its recent success as an assistant coach and was elevated to the head job after John Szefc was hired by Virginia Tech in June 2017.
LEARNARD EVEN BETTER THIS YEAR?
Ross Learnard has been charged with a run in just four of his 40 career appearances as a Boilermaker. After earning second team All-America honors from the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association in 2017 for posting a program-record 0.58 ERA over 46 1/3 innings, he has excelled again this season despite a higher profile role as the team's closer. The only runs he has given up this season came on a two-run homer Feb. 24 vs. Notre Dame. Additionally, he's allowed only one of nine inherited runners to score in 2018.
Dating back to the March 28 win vs. Valparaiso, Learnard has recorded 10 of his 12 outs via strikeouts in the final inning of the last four Purdue victories he has closed out. He has two wins and two saves during that stretch.
Learnard has a 0.70 ERA in 64 career innings. He needs to pitch 11 more innings to be eligible for Purdue's career ERA leaderboard (minimum 75 innings). He eclipsed Steve Krull's minimum 30 innings ERA record (0.60) last year that had stood since 1965. Krull (1.46) also owns the program's all-time ERA records for 75 and 125 innings.
Learnard has pitched 15 consecutive scoreless innings since giving up the home run on Feb. 24. A year ago he had a streak of 35 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings from March 11 through May 14.
2017 Streak: 21 hits (4 XBH), 8 BB, 28 K, allowed 5 of 23 inherited runners to score
2018 Streak: 7 hits (2 XBH), 2 BB, 15 K, allowed 1 of 8 inherited runners to score
McGOWAN TAKING HIS WALKS
Since hitting a two-run homer, his ninth of the year, in the April 6 series-opening win at No. 10 Indiana, Jacson McGowan has been walked 10 times in 34 plate appearances. The opposition's reluctance to pitch to Purdue's top power hitter has helped limited him to one extra-base hit and six RBI in the last seven games. However, he has a .441 on-base percentage despite being just 5-for-22 overall (.227).
This week against Indiana State, McGowan still accounted for two of Purdue's three RBI despite being walked five times. Both RBI came with the bases loaded. He delivered an infield single in the first inning Tuesday in Terre Haute and drew a two-out walk in the eighth inning Wednesday at Alexander Field. Purdue is 15-6 when he has an RBI this season and 1-10 when he does not.
McGowan leads the Boilermakers with a .427 on-base percentage and has now walked (24) more than he has struck out (23).
ANDREWS' LAST 4 STARTS ON THE ROAD IN BIG TEN PLAY
April 14, 2017 at Rutgers - Win, 5 2/3 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 2 K
May 18, 2017 at Minnesota - Win, 6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K
March 30, 2018 at Penn State - Win, 6 1/3 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 4 K
April 6, 2018 at Indiana - 6 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 6 K
Combined Totals: 3-0, 24 IP, 19 H, 10 BB, 13 K, 3.38 ERA
QUICK LOOK AT MARYLAND
The Terrapins have series wins against Tennessee and a good Stetson squad that Purdue played when both teams were 8-1 in early March. But like the Boilermakers, the Terps have scuffled as of late. Maryland has dropped six of its last eight games since winning its conference-opening series vs. Northwestern.
Two of UMD's notable players hail from the Chicagoland area. Senior Kevin Biondic (Oak Lawn) is a multi-year starter at first base, leading the team with 17 extra-base hits this year. He has also emerged as the Terps' top reliever, surrendering just two runs over 18 innings. Freshman Mark DiLuia (Flossmoor) has been moved to Friday in the rotation after working 13 innings of two-run ball over his last two starts, both in midweek action. The Terrapins shuffled their rotation this weekend.
Lefty Tyler Blohm was the 2017 Big Ten Freshman of the Year and is slated to start Sunday. He leads the team with 46 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings. Hunter Parsons has made big strides after a rough 2017 season, becoming UMD's most consistent pitcher. He has surrendered just 45 hits in 56 2/3 innings and already pitched two complete games. He'll start Saturday.
Offensively, second baseman Nick Dunn and outfielder Marty Costes were listed among the top preseason prospects in the Big Ten. Dunn has enjoyed summer ball success in the Cape Cod League and it has carried over to a big junior year at the plate for UMD. He's leading the team with a .331 average, 16 extra-base hits and 25 RBI while recording 21 walks vs. 13 strikeouts. Costes has struggled to hit consistently this season as his .227 batting average would suggest. But he does have 29 free passes and a .365 on-base percentage.