Boilers Host Michigan St. For Series Between Big Ten's First & Second-Place Teams

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Barrett Serrato had multiple hits & an RBI in all three games of the series at Nebraska. He'll look to record his 100th career RBI this weekend.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Barrett Serrato had multiple hits & an RBI in all three games of the series at Nebraska. He'll look to record his 100th career RBI this weekend.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

April 26, 2012


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Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday: Joe Haase (Sr, RHP) vs. MSU's Tony Bucciferro (Sr, RHP)
Saturday: Lance Breedlove (Sr, RHP) vs. MSU's Andrew Wazsak (Jr, RHP)
Sunday: Connor Podkul (Fr, RHP) vs. MSU's David Garner (So, RHP)

Weekend Weather Forecast for West Lafayette, Ind.
Friday: 57 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain
Saturday: 56 degrees, 70 percent chance of rain
Sunday: 62 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain

Series History
All-Time Series: Michigan State leads 74-65
Purdue Under Doug Schreiber vs. Michigan State: Purdue leads 20-13 (Since 1999)
2011: MSU won all 4 meetings, a series sweep in East Lansing & the Big Ten Tourney game
Last Series in West Lafayette: Purdue won 2-of-3 (2010)
First Meeting: Purdue 6, MSU 3 (1949 in West Lafayette)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Another big three-game series for No. 13 Purdue baseball features a visit from Michigan State, as the top two teams in the Big Ten Conference standings square off this weekend at Lambert Field.

First pitch is slated for 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday. Head coach Doug Schreiber will be recognized prior to Friday's game for breaking the Purdue all-time wins record April 15 in the nightcap of the doubleheader sweep of Illinois.

The Boilermakers (32-6, 12-3 Big Ten) enter the weekend with the top overall winning percentage (.842) in the nation and a 3 ½-game lead on Michigan State (26-13, 7-5 Big Ten) and Minnesota (7-5 Big Ten) in the Big Ten standings. The Spartans won two-of-three versus the Gophers last weekend in East Lansing.

The MSU series represents the third of Purdue's four consecutive weekends against quality opponents featuring records above .500. The Boilermakers swept Illinois and took two-of-three against Nebraska. Next weekend, Purdue is idle from Big Ten play but does have a challenging series on the schedule, playing UCLA three times in 48 hours May 5-6. Entering the weekend of April 13-15, Illinois, Nebraska, Michigan State and UCLA featured a combined of 83-43. Two weeks later, those four teams now stand at 102-56.

Eric Charles remains within striking distance of the Purdue all-time record for runs scored (168). The senior has scored 165 times during his time as the program's four-year starting second baseman. Fellow senior Barrett Serrato (98 RBI), meanwhile, will look to become the fifth Boiler to record his 100th career RBI this year. Serrato had multiple hits and drove in a run in all three games of the Nebraska series last weekend in Lincoln.

Purdue led the Big Ten with a 37-20 overall record last season. Only three teams defeated the Boilers more than once a year ago. Michigan State won all four meetings and the series sweep of Purdue in East Lansing helped propel the Spartans to their first Big Ten regular-season title since 1979. Coincidentally, the Boilers had compiled a 20-9 record against MSU during Schreiber's tenure prior to last year.

Michigan State lost the Big Ten Player and Pitcher of the Year to graduation. Together, Jeff Holm (8-for-15, 3 HR, 9 RBI) and Kurt Wunderlich (2-0, 14 IP, 4 R, 7 K) were two of the big reasons why the Spartans went 4-0 against the Boilers.

Purdue and Michigan State entered last year's series tied for first place in the Big Ten. While the Spartans hit five home runs in the series, all by Holm and Torsten Boss to right field, the Boilers left 32 runners on base over the course of the three-game series. Right field at MSU's McLane Stadium is a short porch guarded by a high right field fence.

Michigan State continues to feature a well-rounded and balanced team. Center fielder Jordan Keur (.404, 12 doubles) and Ryan Jones (.386, 13 extra-base hits) enter the weekend with two of the top three batting averages in the league. Boss (.331, 18 extra-base hits) remains one of the top run producers in the Big Ten.

Among the MSU pitching staff, Friday starter Tony Bucciferro (3.04 ERA, 60 K in 68 IP) and closer Tony Wieber (0.95 ERA, two wins and six saves) are having quality seasons again. But it has been Andrew Waszak that has made the greatest strides. After serving as MSU's Sunday starter a year ago, the junior leads the rotation this season with a 2.23 ERA, ranking sixth in the Big Ten.

Tennessee transfer Mike Theodore (2.89 ERA) has been an effective starter for much of the season, but David Garner has taken the ball in the finales of MSU's last two Big Ten series. However, MSU did not have a midweek game this week, meaning Theodore should be available in relief. Sophomore Jeff Kinley (5-2, 2.20 ERA) has excelled as the Spartans' primary setup man and long reliever.

In its series wins against Ohio State and Indiana, MSU lost the opener but came back to capture the weekend set. The opener and finale of last weekend's series with Minnesota were decided in extra innings. Boss played the hero in both walk-offs, drawing a bases-loaded walk in the 11th inning of game one and delivering a game-winning single in the 10th inning of the rubber game.

The Purdue-Michigan State showdown marks the only series around the league this weekend that features two teams in the top half of the current standings. While the Boilers do not play Indiana and Minnesota this year, Nebraska and Northwestern are MSU's no-play opponents.