WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Purdue baseball's first home weekend of the Big Ten season is against a Minnesota team that used the home dugout at Alexander Field less than a week ago.
The Boilermakers and Gophers both look to build on their solid starts to conference play. Thanks in part to a pair of series sweeps vs. Penn State, Minnesota and Purdue are both among the top four in Big Ten standings entering their third weekends of league play.
First pitch this weekend at Alexander Field is set for 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday.
The Gophers opted to move their home series vs. PSU from Minneapolis to West Lafayette last weekend due to snow and cold temperatures in the Twin Cities. Coincidentally, entering the month Minnesota had only played three games in West Lafayette since the start of the 2011 season. Due to a scheduling quirk related to conference expansion, Purdue played 77 home conference games from 2010 through 2016 without hosting the Gophers. After its midweek contests were postponed/canceled this week, Minnesota will end up playing six consecutive games on the Boilermakers' home field this season.
The Gophers actually have one more win at Alexander Field than Purdue this season while playing just one fewer game. Minnesota's 13 non-conference games inside U.S. Bank Stadium count as home dates. Even though the Gophers haven't played in their on-campus stadium Seibert Field yet, around the Big Ten only Maryland (17) and Indiana (15) have played more "home" games this year. Purdue's four home games remain the fewest in the league.
Penn State led Minnesota 5-4 in last weekend's series opener when the game was suspended due to cold weather. The Gophers rallied to win 7-6 after the game resumed Saturday and then went on to score 17 runs in the nightcap of the 13-inning doubleheader. Freshman Patrick Fredrickson took a no-hitter into the eighth inning of game 2 of the series, winning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors for his 7 1/3 innings of one-hit ball.
Minnesota has an experienced lineup but a fairly young pitching staff. Staff ace Reggie Meyer started Sunday vs. Penn State due to some arm fatigue, but is moving back to his customary Friday spot in the rotation this weekend.
Media Session Highlights: Coach Waz & Jacson McGowan discussed timely hitting. Alec Olund liked the way #Purdue battled, going 4-2 while playing its first 2 Big Ten weekends on the road. #BoilerUp
4:18 PM - Apr 12, 2018
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FOND MEMORIES FROM 2017 TRIP TO MINNEAPOLIS
• Last year, it was Purdue and Minnesota that played 20 innings of baseball in an unconventional doubleheader. Three games went final on May 19, 2017 in Minneapolis as the Boilermakers posted their first series victory in the Twin Cities since 2000, clinching a Big Ten Tournament berth in the process.
• Ross Learnard worked three innings of one-hit relief to finish off Purdue's 5-2 win in the series opener, which was suspended Thursday evening after a power outage. Tanner Andrews impressed in another series-opening start, working six innings of three-hit ball despite recording just one strikeout.
• Game 2 started 40 minutes after the previous game went final and Purdue rolled to an 11-1 win behind a quality start from Gareth Stroh (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 4 K), three hits from Skyler Hunter and three RBI from Alec Olund.
• Because Friday's originally scheduled 7:30 p.m. CT game was slated to be televised live by the Big Ten Network, the start time of the series finale was kept in place. The Boilermakers' team bus took the players back to the hotel for about an hour. Purdue scored twice in the top of the first, but managed just one hit in the game and lost the series finale 9-2. Meyer worked five innings of one-hit ball.
• Milo Beam reached base safely in six of his 10 plate appearances, scoring four times. The Boilermakers won the series despite Jacson McGowan finishing the weekend 2-for-10 with no RBI. This year, Purdue is 14-4 when McGowan has recorded an RBI and just 1-9 when he has not driven in a run. The lone win was against Saint Louis on Feb. 23 in San Antonio, game No. 4 of the season.
• Minnesota entered the weekend with a chance to repeat as the Big Ten regular-season champion. Instead, thanks to the help it received from Purdue, Nebraska won its first Big Ten title even after losing its series opener at last-place Penn State.
SHIPLEY STILL PURDUE'S HOTTEST HITTER
• Harry Shipley has reached base safely a team-high 27 times over the last 12 games (19-for-46, .500 OBP). He has been on base safely at least twice in 11 of the 12 games, including a current streak of six straight games. The left side of Purdue's infield, Evan Warden (8-for-24, 3 2B, 4 R) and Shipley (9-for-25, 2 2B, 4 R, .467 OBP), are both riding six-game hit streaks entering the Minnesota series.
• Skyler Hunter is the only other Boilermaker to reach base safely twice in at least five consecutive games this year, accomplishing the feat Feb. 24 to March 4 during his team-best 13-game hit streak to begin the season. Shipley has done it twice now during his hot streak, which coincided with his move to the top of the lineup. He's batting .368 (14-for-38) with a .478 on-base percentage and eight runs scored while batting No. 1 in the order. The senior has reached base safely to begin any inning 61 percent of the time, easily the highest mark on the team.
#Purdue hosts the Gophers this weekend. Jacson McGowan looks back at last year's memorable series win in Minneapolis & Coach Waz acknowledges Minnesota will be a tough opponent because John Anderson's team is always competitive. #BoilerUp
11:33 AM - Apr 12, 2018
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QUICK LOOK AT MINNESOTA
• The Gophers were projected as an NCAA Regional team by Baseball America this week. They opened the season 8-2 after being Arizona on an 11th-inning walk-off March 2 inside U.S. Bank Stadium. But it was actually Illinois that went on to win the six-team Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge that weekend in Minneapolis. Even with the weather wreaking havoc on Minnesota's schedule as of late, it still has won nine of its last 12 games dating back to March 16. The Gophers posted series wins against 2017 NCAA Regional teams TCU, Nebraska and St. John's three weekend in a row before sweeping Penn State.
• Minnesota leads the Big Ten with a .301 team batting average and moved up to third in the league with a 3.57 team ERA after surrendering just 10 runs in the Penn State series. Terrin Vavra (.397, 29 RBI), Toby Hanson (11 XBH, 18 RBI), Micah Coffey (9 XBH, 17 RBI), Luke Pettersen (18 walks, 29 runs, 17 RBI) and Alex Boxwell (3 HR, 20 RBI) are all multi-year starters who were key contributors to the Gophers' Big Ten title two years ago, their first since 2010.
• Minnesota's weekend rotation of Meyer (2.62 ERA, 8 walks in 48 innings), Fredrickson (1.48 ERA, 38 K vs. 26 hits allowed) and Sam Thoresen (22 K vs. 14 hits allowed) have all surrendered fewer hits than innings pitched, leading the way as the Gophers have compiled a .231 batting average against. Closer Max Meyer, whose brother Ben (2012-15) also pitched for the Gophers and is now at the Triple-A level with Marlins, has eight saves in 13 appearances while surrendering just 10 hits in 20 2/3 innings. Brett Schulze (6 wins in 11 app, 1.96 ERA) has also been excellent in relief this year.