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Indiana baseball preview: Purdue

Grant Richardson during Indiana’s series with Penn State. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Following a successful weekend for Indiana Baseball where the Hoosiers took two of three from Penn State at home, Indiana will host rival Purdue on Wednesday.

The midweek match-up will not technically be a conference game nor count towards the teams’ Big Ten records. The teams weren’t scheduled to play each other in conference play for the season this year so they scheduled a midweek, non-conference game so the two rivals could still play one another.

The two teams come into the game in opposite situations.

Indiana (19-12), though inconsistent at times, is winning games and playing good baseball. The Hoosiers have won seven of their last 11 games and are tied with Nebraska for the most wins in the Big Ten. Both teams are 7-2 in conference play.

Purdue, on the other hand is struggling throughout the 2019 season. The Boilermakers are 10-20 on the season and have lost their last four games and got swept by Nebraska this past weekend. Purdue is in the middle of the pack within the conference. The Boilermakers are in eighth and have a 4-4 record in Big Ten play.

Let’s take a look at what to expect from the Hoosiers’ match-up with the Boilermakers.

Late game heroics in last season

Just a season ago when the two rivals met up in Bloomington, they played in an all-time classic in the Sunday matchup of the series. Indiana came out on top in a 13-inning game with Logan Kaletha hitting a walk-off two-run home run to win the series and the game 7-5.

The rivals played each other four times a season ago and they split the series 2-2. Anything is possible in a rivalry game and though the records this year are far different, expect a competitive ballgame.

Hitting

The Boilermakers’ biggest struggle as a team comes at the plate. Purdue is tied for second to last in the Big Ten with Michigan State in team batting average with a .227 mark.

They also struggle tremendously when it comes to hitting for power. They only have four home runs as a team on the season, the worst in the Big Ten. There is a big drop-off with their leadoff and consensus best hitter, junior Skyler Hunter, compared to the rest of their roster.

Hunter hits for a .343 batting average with 10 extra base hits and eight RBIs. He also has excellent plate discipline, taking five walks and only striking out 14 times in a total of 105 at-bats this year.

Past Hunter, their two next best batters have at least a .64 differential in batting average.

Senior Nick Evarts is second in batting average with a .279 mark and hits clean-up. He’s had far fewer at-bats with 68 compared to Hunter’s 105 but has more RBIs (9) than the Boilermakers’ top bat.

Zac Fascia, a junior catcher, is third in batting average at .255 and leads the team in home runs with two. Even if his numbers aren’t eye-popping Fascia has high potential as evidenced by last summer. Fascia was selected in the 37th round of the 2018 MLB Draft by the New York Mets but elected not to sign and play for Purdue.

Pitching

Purdue has a stronger pitching presence than their bats. The Boilermakers are fourth in the Big Ten in numbers of batters struck out with a total of 258. They rank ninth in the conference in ERA with a team average mark of 4.73.

Purdue, like Indiana, typically throws a lot of arms in the midweek contests. But, the Boilermakers may have found a bit of consistency as they have started freshman left hander James Kulak in each of their last three midweek contests.

Kulak has only pitched 7.1 innings but has only allowed three earned runs, 10 hits and has struck out 10 batters as well.

Other likely arms that’ll be used in the game include:

  • Freshman, Kyle Wade (24.1 IP, 16 Ks, 5.55 ERA)
  • Freshman, Conner Tomasic (11 IP, 10 Ks, 3.27 ERA)
  • Sophomore, Matt Moore (13 IP, 13 Ks, 2.08 ERA)
  • Sophomore, Bo Hofstra (22.1 IP, 25 Ks, 1.21 ERA)
  • Freshman, Austin Peterson (28.2 IP, 32 Ks, 5.97 ERA)

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