Boilermakers Ready for Home Opener Against IPFW
After a pair of schedule changes, Purdue baseball is now set to host IPFW for its 2014 home opener at Alexander Field on Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m.The Boilermakers (3-16) were originally scheduled to play their home opener March 19 vs. Butler and later March 25 vs. IPFW (5-15). The Butler game was rescheduled for April 15 as the teams swapped home dates.
The IPFW game was pushed back one day to Wednesday due to a more favorable forecast.
Purdue is 11-4 in home openers during head coach Doug Schreiber's 16-year tenure. The Boilermakers won home openers against IPFW in 2009 and 2010. Last year's game with the Mastodons at Alexander Field the final week of March was snowed out by a significant spring blizzard that rolled through the Midwest March 24-25.
Around the Big Ten Conference, Illinois, Northwestern and Ohio State also had to reschedule or cancel games set for Tuesday. Entering the week, Michigan State, Michigan, Northwestern and Purdue had yet to play a home game this season.
After putting together a quality performance en route to winning his first collegiate start last week at Butler, freshman Adam Dressler will get another chance in a midweek role Wednesday. The right-hander retired 12 consecutive batters in the second through sixth innings and kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard until the sixth. Perhaps most important, he did not issue a walk. The Chicagoland native became the first Purdue starting pitcher this season to not issue a base on balls in his outing. All five hits he surrendered came with two outs.
Led by Mike Lutz (8 innings of three-run ball over three appearances) and Dressler, the Boilers' pitching staff enjoyed their best week of the season over the five games last week. The staff compiled a 3.18 ERA over 51 innings pitched. Relievers allowed only two of 12 inherited runners to score and the Boilers' limited the opposition to a .254 batting average with runners in scoring position.
Purdue had a chance to win all five games last week but ended up going 2-3 after losing twice in extra-innings and failing to capitalize on some early scoring chances Sunday en route to getting shut out for the third time in 2014.
Sean McHugh (14-for-36, 7 RBI) and Kyle Johnson (11-for-31, 5 RBI) hit safely in all eight games of spring break. They accounted for the first three home runs in the history of Southern Illinois' new Itchy Jones Stadium last weekend. Unfortunately, four of the seven runs that the Boilers scored in the series came on the long ball. McHugh and Johnson both went deep with two outs and the bases empty Saturday. Purdue was 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position in the series.
Jack Picchiotti (9-for-24, 6 walks), Conner Hudnall (10-for-34, 6 RBI) and Brandon Krieg (9-for-23) also enjoyed productive spring breaks at the plate.
Greg Kaiser has been the hot hitter for IPFW. The second baseman has won the last two Summit League Player of the Week awards and has received national honors from Collegiate Baseball and CollegeSportsMadness.com. He's 14-for-24 with six home runs and 16 RBI over the last two weeks, during which the Mastodons have played Ball State and Eastern Illinois. IPFW was also swept in a three-game series by common opponent Butler.
Kristian Gayday has already hit eight home runs in his team's 20 games. He posted consecutive multi-homer games recently. Projected starter Nate White walked four and surrendered four hits over two innings in his first start of the season, March 14 vs. Ball State.
Purdue opens Big Ten play this weekend with a three-game series at Illinois, visiting Champaign-Urbana for the second year in a row.
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