Purdue (27-24, 10-11 B1G) at Minnesota (32-17, 14-6 B1G)
Thursday to Saturday, May 18 to 20 at 7:30, 7:30 and 2 p.m. ET / First 2 Games on BTN, BTN2Go
Siebert Field / Minneapolis, Minnesota
All-Time Series: Minnesota leads 112-52-2 / All-Time in Minneapolis: Minnesota leads 65-22
2016: Minnesota swept a 3-game set (May 13-15 in West Lafayette)
Last Series in Minneapolis: Minnesota swept a 3-game set (May 2014)
Purdue's Last Series Win vs. Minnesota: Purdue swept a 4-game set (2008 in West Lafayette)
Purdue's Last Series Win in Minneapolis: Purdue won 3 of 4 (May 2000)
First Meeting: Minnesota 14, Purdue 9 (1901 in West Lafayette)
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As Purdue baseball visits Minnesota for the final weekend of the regular season, the Boilermakers have the dual opportunity to qualify for the Big Ten Tournament while also potentially having a big impact on which team wins the league.
As is customary, the final weekend series of the regular season is contested via a Thursday-Friday-Saturday format. First pitch at Seibert Field in Minneapolis is slated for 7:30 p.m. ET on Thursday and Friday. Both games will be televised live by the Big Ten Network. Saturday's series finale is set for 2 p.m. ET.
Purdue enters the weekend tied with Northwestern (10-11 B1G) for seventh place. The top eight teams qualify for the Big Ten Tournament, which opens Wednesday in Bloomington, Indiana. Michigan State (9-12) is one game back of the Boilermakers and Wildcats. Purdue would lose head-to-head tiebreakers with both NU and MSU, but the Wildcats would be the odd team out in the event of a three-way tie for seventh. Illinois (8-13), Rutgers (7-13) and Ohio State (7-14) remain alive, but one loss would likely eliminate all three. Purdue and Michigan State both own a potential head-to-head tiebreaker over Illinois.
The Boilermakers control their own destiny. Should they lose a game, the clearest path to qualifying for the tournament then becomes matching MSU's win total this weekend. Purdue needs to avoid being in a two-way tie with the Spartans for eighth. With Northwestern and Rutgers squaring off this weekend in Evanston, only one of those teams should be able to qualify. Illinois likely needs to sweep Iowa in Champaign to extend its season.
-- Purdue Baseball (@PurdueBaseball) May 17, 2017
The Golden Gophers (14-6 B1G) moved into first place Tuesday with a doubleheader sweep of Rutgers. Nebraska (14-6-1) and Michigan (14-7) are only a few percentage points behind. Because of Nebraska's travel-curfew tie at Indiana, and Minnesota having one of its games with Rutgers canceled, winning percentage will be the decisive factor at the top of the standings this year. The Gophers, Huskers and Wolverines all have 14 wins in league play entering the final weekend. Michigan takes on Michigan State and Nebraska visits last place Penn State.
Minnesota has a chance to repeat as the Big Ten champion thanks to road sweeps at Ohio State, Michigan State and Penn State. Like Purdue, the Gophers played their first two Big Ten weekends on the road. But after Rutgers' canceled flight in early April postponed the series in Minneapolis, John Anderson's team ended up playing 12 of its first 18 league games on the road. Meanwhile, Minnesota lost two of three at home to Nebraska and Illinois. Ten of the Gophers' 14 league wins so far have come on the road.
Purdue and Minnesota have both won 16 true road games this season to lead the Big Ten.
QUICK LOOK AT MINNESOTA
The Golden Gophers lead the Big Ten with a .297 team batting average and have struck out the fewest times in the league (289, 5.9 Ks per game). One week after the Boilermakers played the conference's stolen base leader in Michigan, they take on a Minnesota team that has swiped the fewest bases (30 of 44) in the Big Ten. Coincidentally, at the same time the Gophers lead the league in triples (20).
Minnesota has seven regulars batting over .300, headlined by Micah Coffey (.353, 14 doubles, 40 RBI). Toby Hanson is third in the Big Ten with 50 RBI and has an opportunity to double his total (27) from last year. Luke Pettersen (.325, 9 sac bunts), Jordan Smith (.306, 11 doubles, 6 homers, 28 walks) and Terrin Vavra (.304, 7 steals) were also starters on the last year's Big Ten championship team.
Staff ace Lucas Gilbreath and closer Brian Glowicki led the pitching staff. They're tops in the Big Ten in batting average against and saves, respectively. Gilbreath has nearly record twice as many strikeouts (80) as hits allowed (41) in 69 2/3 innings. Glowicki has two wins and 15 saves in his 24 appearances. He's surrendered only three extra-base hits in 26 innings. The Gophers have played sound defense behind their pitching staff, posting a .980 fielding percentage that ranks second in the Big Ten.
Minnesota used Tyler Hanson (5 1/3 IP) and Toby Anderson (6 1/3 IP) as its starting pitchers in Tuesday's doubleheader sweep of Rutgers. Reggie Meyer, who closed out game one vs. RU, and Anderson have been the Gophers' primary Sunday starters.