Boilermakers Host Illinois For First Of Back-To-Back Home Series

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM Eric Charles is the only Boiler to start every game this season, all at second base.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Eric Charles is the only Boiler to start every game this season, all at second base.
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

May 12, 2011


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

All-Time Series: Illinois leads 148-76-1
Purdue under Doug Schreiber vs. Illinois: Purdue leads 25-16 (Since 1999)
2010: Purdue won 2-of-3 in Champaign
Last Series in West Lafayette: Purdue won 2-of-3 (2009)
First Meeting: Illinois 14, Purdue 5 (1893 in West Lafayette)

Probable Starting Pitchers
Game One: Matt Morgan (Sr, RHP) vs. Kevin Johnson (So, RHP)
Game Two: TBA vs. John Anderson (Sr, RHP)
Game Three: Joe Haase (Jr, RHP) vs. Corey Kimes (Jr, LHP)

Weekend Promotions
Friday: Russell Athletic merchandise giveaway
Saturday: Alumni Day
Sunday: Team Day - $1 admission per person for youth baseball teams; Game-worn jersey giveaway

Weekend Weather Forecast for West Lafayette, Ind.
Friday: 78 degrees, 50 percent chance of rain
Saturday: 68 degrees, 60 percent chance of rain
Sunday: 57 degrees, 40 percent chance of rain

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - For the first of its back-to-back Big Ten series at home, Purdue baseball welcomes Illinois to campus for a three-game weekend set that will feature two teams tied for third place in the conference standings.

First pitch at Lambert Field is slated for 4 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday. The series finale is scheduled to be televised live on the Big Ten Network.

The Boilermakers (31-16, 10-8 Big Ten) opened their season-long, eight-game homestand Wednesday with a win against Ball State. Purdue is set to play its final two weekend series of the season at home for the first time since 1998.

The Fighting Illini (20-24, 10-8 Big Ten) were idle this past week due to final exams on campus but have been playing well as of late, winning eight of their last 11 games. Illinois has won each of its last three series, highlighted by taking two of three at home against Michigan State (April 23-24) and Ohio State (May 6-8). The Illini also posted their first series victory on the road in Big Ten play the weekend of April 29-May 1 when they won two of three at Northwestern.

With Purdue and Illinois sporting the same conference records, the major difference in the teams' overall wins disparity has been midweek action. While the Boilers have won eight of their nine midweek games, the Illini have posted just a 1-6 record. Illinois has not won a road game outside of Big Ten play since March 20 (at Southern Illinois) and is 10-18 in all games played away from Champaign this year.

Purdue strives to bounce back after getting swept by league-leading Michigan State last weekend in East Lansing. The Boilermakers improved to 9-2 at home after Wednesday's win. Purdue has won two of three against the Illini each of the last two seasons and has won six of the last eight meetings dating back to 2008.

The friendly confines of Lambert Field have aided both the Boilers' lineup and pitching staff this season. But the pitching staff has drastically better numbers at home than the offense, which has demonstrated a higher level of consistency home and away. A Purdue starting pitcher has yet to suffer a loss at Lambert this spring. In particular, Matt Morgan, Calvin Gunter and Joe Haase, who are likely to start the three games, have teamed up to compile 45 strikeouts versus 14 walks and a 1.32 ERA in 47 2/3 innings pitched.

Illinois' starting rotation of Kevin Johnson, John Anderson and Corey Kimes has started 36 of the team's 44 games this year. Kimes has earned the win in the rubber game of each of the last two series, working seven innings in quality starts against Northwestern and Ohio State. Johnson and Anderson have regularly pitched deep into games, each working over 70 innings. But both right-handers struggled last weekend against Ohio State.

The Illini's bullpen quartet of Will Strack (3-1, 2.97 ERA), Chris Pack (4-1, 2 saves), Wes Braun (0.56 ERA, 5 saves) and Luke Joyce (2.08 ERA) has backed up the starters efficiently. Strack bailed out Johnson with four innings of scoreless relief in the series-opening win against Ohio State last weekend. Braun has recorded a win and three saves in his six Big Ten appearances. Joyce worked 4 2/3 innings of one-hit relief in the series win against Michigan State but has only pitched in two games since.

Cameron Perkins' consistency in the No. 3 hole of the lineup continues to highlight the Purdue offense. The sophomore has hit safely in each of the last eight games since his 20-game hitting streak was snapped in the nightcap of the April 23 doubleheader at Northwestern. He enters the weekend having reached base safely in 53 consecutive games and 36 consecutive Big Ten games dating back to last season. His 53-game streak is the third longest active run in the nation.

Meanwhile, Eric Charles is quietly having another quality season while hitting in front of Perkins in the lineup. The second baseman has hit safely in 15 of the last 16 games and is batting .405 during his current nine-game hit streak. Charles is the only Boiler that has started every game this year, all at second base.

Justin Parr (.486) and Pete Cappetta (.415) have led the way offensively in Big Ten play for Illinois. Willie Argo (18), Josh Parr (13), Adam Davis (12) and Capetta (10) have teamed up to account for 53 of the Illini's 76 stolen bases. Casey McMurray will also run (9-for-9), but is more notable for being the most difficult batter to strike out in the Big Ten. The outfielder has fanned only six times in 168 at-bats. However, he is the only regular with more walks than strikeouts.

Purdue and Illinois are tied with Ohio State for third place in the Big Ten standings. Minnesota (11-7) has surged into second place after winning eight of its last nine conference games. Purdue does not play Ohio State and Illinois does not play Minnesota during the regular season. Both the Boilers and Illini close out their regular-season schedules at home next weekend; Purdue hosts Iowa and Illinois hosts Indiana.