When the Hoosiers take the field this weekend against Purdue in West Lafayette, one thing will be on their minds: getting even.
After all, not only are the Boilermakers major rivals, but they were also the team to end IU’s storied run in the Big Ten tournament last season.
The three-game conference battle will begin at 4 p.m. Friday at Lambert Field.
“We are looking for revenge,” sophomore outfielder Brian Lambert said. “I have been here for three years and it is getting more and more heated every year. Throw the records out because it is going to be a tough series, and it’s good to have momentum going into it.”
This added confidence stems from a dominant 17-2 victory against Western Illinois on Wednesday, in which sophomore pitcher Joey O’Gara pitched a no-hitter and 12 Hoosiers reached base.
In addition, IU has not lost a Big Ten series this season.
Two players who emerged this week as key offensive threats are Lambert and freshman Josh Lyon.
Lambert tied a school record for hits in a single game with five against Western Illinois. In his last two games, Lyon has five hits, three runs and four RBI.
IU coach Tracy Smith said he is proud of the way both players have stepped up as of late.
“Brian has been swinging the bat really well lately for us, so to see him get five hits was really great,” Smith said. “With Josh, it’s been tough to get him playing time, so we were really glad that he responded with some really hard-hit balls, too.”
Freshman Blake Monar (4-3) will take the mound Friday to face Purdue ace Matt Bischoff (3-4). Junior pitchers Eric Arnett (9-1) and Matt Bashore (4-3) will face the Boilermakers on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.
At Purdue, the Hoosiers will take on a team that is 18-21 on the season and 5-9 in the conference.
Despite the losing record, 10 players have a batting average higher than .300.
Outfielder Brandon Haveman leads the Boilermakers in average (.392) and hits (49).
O’Gara said the matchup in West Lafayette is crucial for team momentum.
“It’s definitely a rivalry in baseball,” he said. “We need to pitch and play defense like we have the last couple of weekends. We have to keep it