May 1, 2014
Probable Pitching Matchups
Friday: Connor Podkul (So, RHP) vs. IU's Joey DeNato (Sr, LHP)
Saturday: Jordan Minch (So, LHP) vs. IU's Christian Morris (So, RHP)
Sunday: Gavin Downs (So, RHP) vs. IU's Brian Korte (Sr, LHP)
Weekend Weather Forecast for Bloomington, Ind.
Friday: 59 degrees, clear skies
Saturday: 71 degrees, clear skies
Sunday: 69 degrees, clear skies
All-Time Series: Indiana leads 143-131-2
All-Time Series in Bloomington: Indiana leads 76-51-1
Purdue Under Doug Schreiber vs. Indiana: Purdue leads 30-23 (Since 1999)
Current Series Streak: Purdue has won 7 straight dating back to May 2010
Last Meetings: Purdue Won 3-0 & 6-5 at the 2012 Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio
Last Regular-Season Series: Purdue swept a three-game series (April-May 2011 in West Lafayette)
Last Series in Bloomington: Purdue won 2-of-3 (April-May 2010)
First Meeting: Purdue 3, Indiana 2 (May 1888 in Bloomington)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- As Purdue baseball prepares for its first regular-season series with rival Indiana since 2011, this weekend marks the first of back-to-back road trips in which the Boilermakers will get their first look at second-year stadiums around the Big Ten.
First pitch at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington is set for 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday. The Big Ten Network is scheduled to televise games two and three live.
Both IU's Kaufman Field and Minnesota's Siebert Field, which Purdue will visit next weekend, feature all artificial turf surfaces. But the Hoosiers' home park is unique in that even its pitching mound is covered by artificial turf.
Indiana (29-12, 13-2 Big Ten) is ranked as high as No. 11 in the national polls and No. 2 in the RPI. The Hoosiers have a three-game lead on Nebraska and Illinois in the conference standings, and are looking to become the first team to win consecutive Big Ten regular-season titles since Michigan won three in a row from 2006-08.
Purdue (12-29, 5-10 Big Ten) has not played Indiana since winning both meetings in the final two rounds of the 2012 Big Ten Tournament in Columbus, Ohio. The Boilermakers swept a three-game series in West Lafayette in the last regular-season series in 2011. Sean McHugh delivered a walk-off single as a pinch hitter in the 12th inning in the opening game of the series. Indiana's projected game three starter this weekend, Brian Korte, also started the finale of the 2011 series. But among Purdue's active roster, only Brandon Krieg and McHugh have played in games against the Hoosiers.
The Boilermakers have not visited Bloomington since winning two-of-three in a tight back-and-forth series in 2010. That wild weekend featured a combined 62 runs scored over the three games, with games two and three both decided in extra innings. Purdue head coach Doug Schreiber said this week it was one of the most draining series of his coaching career because of how competitive the three games were.
The Boilermakers have won seven straight games (dating back to the finale of the 2010 series) and 11 of the last 14 (dating back to the 2008 Big Ten Tournament) against Indiana. Schreiber's Purdue teams are 17-9 vs. Tracy Smith's IU teams since Smith took over in Bloomington in 2006. But the Hoosiers have taken their level of play to the next level over the last two seasons, highlighted by their run to the College World Series last year (the first Big Ten team to make it since 1984).
Third baseman Dustin DeMuth, pitcher Joey DeNato, catcher/outfielder Kyle Schwarber and first baseman Sam Travis have been among IU's top performers the last few seasons during the program's rise to the top of the Big Ten. But Purdue has only seen the underclassman versions of those four standouts.
DeNato, who attended Torrey Pines High School in San Diego with Kyle Johnson and Michael Mullen, has established new Indiana records for wins (33) and strikeouts (267). He was still primarily an outfielder when he last pitched (as a reliever) against the Boilers in 2011, giving up the walk-off single to McHugh. Schwarber and Travis, whom graced the cover of Baseball America's college baseball preview issue this year, were just making names for themselves as freshman standouts when Purdue last saw them at the 2012 Big Ten Tournament. As a former high school teammate of Connor Podkul and Kyle Upp at La Porte High, DeMuth has been a four-year starter for the Hoosiers at third base. He opted not to sign after being selected by the Minnesota Twins in the eighth round of the MLB First-Year Player Draft last season and is now the NCAA Division I active career leader with 288 hits.
Meanwhile, Podkul returns to the weekend rotation having worked 10 2/3 scoreless innings of five-hit ball over his last three appearances. After Jordan Minch, who threw 130 pitches, and Gavin Downs each pitched nine innings last weekend in their starts against Ohio State, the Purdue coaching staff has opted to give both an extra day of rest before taking the mound again. So Podkul will start Friday against Indiana's ace DeNato. The change also gives the Boilers a right-left-right order to its rotation, as opposed to left-right-right if Podkul were to start Sunday.
Indiana has already swept Iowa, Ohio State and Michigan State while racing out to first place in the standings. Despite being in 10th place in the standings with a 5-10 record, Purdue has not been swept in a Big Ten series this season. Besides IU, only Illinois (10-5), Nebraska (10-5) and Michigan (9-9) can also claim that. Wins this weekend for the Boilers would go a long way in making the final two Big Ten series against Minnesota (9-9) and Iowa (7-8) very significant in the Big Ten Tournament chase.
Indiana (17th) and Purdue (27th) have the highest strength of schedule rankings in the Big Ten entering the weekend. Nebraska (66th) and Michigan (69th) are the only other league schools that rank among the top 80 in strength of schedule. The Boilermakers have already played at two teams -- Rice and LSU -- that like the Hoosiers are being projected as NCAA Regional hosts when the NCAA Tournament gets underway in about a month.