May 18, 2011
All-Time Series: Iowa leads 85-58-1
Purdue under Doug Schreiber vs. Iowa: Purdue leads 24-23 (Since 1999)
2010: Iowa won all five meetings, sweeping Purdue in Iowa City & taking both tourney matchups
Last Series in West Lafayette: Purdue won 2-of-3 (2009)
First Meeting: Purdue 5, Iowa 2 (1902 in West Lafayette)
Weather Forecast for West Lafayette, Ind.
Thursday: 74 degrees, 20 percent chance of rain
Friday: 80 degrees, 10 percent chance of rain
Saturday: 77 degrees, 40 percent chance of rain
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - As Purdue baseball closes its eight-game homestand and the regular season with a Big Ten series against Iowa, the Boilermakers strive to play well and in the process extend their campaign by locking up a conference tournament berth.
First pitch at Lambert Field is set for 4 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Purdue's three seniors - Payton Bieker, David Blount and Matt Morgan - will be recognized prior to Saturday's first pitch for their contributions to Boilermaker baseball.
Saturday's game doubles as the home finale, but it is not expected to be the final game played at Lambert Field. Purdue is scheduled to move into its new stadium at the Northwest Complex next year. However, the 2012 home opener and the first few home dates are expected to be played at Lambert. The new stadium should be unveiled in April 2012.
In a conference race that features six teams within three games of league-leading Michigan State (13-8 Big Ten), the Boilermakers (33-18, 11-10 Big Ten) are among a group of teams that could either win a share of the Big Ten regular-season title or not qualify for the conference tournament. Two victories should assure Purdue of a tournament berth. The Boilermakers could also qualify for the six-team event for the seventh time in the last eight seasons by winning one game and getting some help from Michigan and Michigan State in their series against Penn State (10-11 Big Ten) and Northwestern (9-11 Big Ten), respectively. Purdue owns potential head-to-head tiebreakers against both PSU and NU.
Iowa (20-29, 9-12 Big Ten) has won two-of-three against Penn State and Ohio State the last two weekends to remain alive in the Big Ten Tournament chase. However, one loss would essentially eliminate the Hawkeyes from tourney contention.
Iowa ended the Boilers' season in the Big Ten Tournament last year. In fact, each of Purdue's final five losses came at the hands of the Hawkeyes. Iowa swept the Boilers in Iowa City the final weekend of the regular season and then topped Purdue in the opening round and loser's bracket of the tournament.
Those five straight wins for the Hawkeyes over a span of eight days represented the longest win streak in the series for either team since Iowa also won five in a row from 1989-1992. Purdue had won eight of the last 12 meetings entering the 2010 season.
Thursday's series opener could prove to be the key game of the series. An Iowa win would keep the Hawkeyes alive in the tourney chase and perhaps also put the Boilers in a more extensive must-win scenario.
For Purdue, Morgan is expected to take the mound for the final time at Lambert Field Thursday. As a three-year member of the weekend rotation, Morgan has compiled an 8-2 record in his 12 career starts at home. He became the eighth pitcher in program history to reach the 200-career strikeouts benchmark in his victory against Illinois last weekend. Seventy-nine of his 201 career Ks have over 87 1/3 innings pitched at Lambert.
Purdue is 9-2 in game Morgan has started this season, including 3-0 at home.
Iowa ace Jarred Hippen also presents a formidable challenge. He has won Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors twice over the last three weeks. April 29, the lefty threw a one-hitter against Minnesota at Target Field but still suffered the loss in a 1-0 final. Last weekend, he pitched a three-hit complete-game shutout in the Hawkeyes' win at Ohio State.
Iowa lost two-of-three in each of its first six Big Ten series of the season. The Boilermakers' and Hawkeyes' Big Ten schedules were opposites of each other. Purdue played three of its first four series on the road, but was the only team to close the year with back-to-back series at home. Iowa played three of its four conference weekends at home, but was the only team to be on the road for the final two series of the season. However, Iowa has actually played better away from home this season. The Hawkeyes are 7-13 (.350) at Duane Banks Field and 13-16 (.448) in games played away from Iowa City this spring.
Iowa (213) and Purdue (212) rank one-two in the Big Ten in walks draw by their batters. But the Hawkeyes have struck out 98 more times in 206 fewer plate appearances. Iowa ranks last in the Big Ten with eight home runs, but has connected for six of the eight in Big Ten play. Granted the bats are not as lively this year, but the Hawkeyes hit six home runs in the five games against Purdue in 2010.