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Three things to know as IU baseball welcomes Purdue



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Senior utility Matt Lloyd runs to first base March 23 at Bart Kaufman Field. Lloyd upped his team-high reached base streak to 16 games with his RBI double. Alex Deryn

The last two weeks for IU baseball have been nearly identical.

In each of the last two weeks, IU has lost its midweek game in ugly fashion, opened a weekend series with a shutout loss and then came back to win the next two games.

If IU wants to beat Purdue, the trend will need to change Wednesday. Although the game does not count toward the Big Ten standings, the rivalry has still gotten attention as it will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1.

Here are three things to know before first pitch at 7:05 p.m. between the Hoosiers and Boilermakers.

Purdue comes in skidding.

The nonconference schedule was not polite to the Boilermakers. Purdue started the season with three games against then-No. 21 University of Southern Mississippi and four against then-No. 14 University of Texas. The team lost six of those matchups.

At 10-20, the Boilermakers need to string together wins quickly if they hope to return to NCAA Regionals for the second consecutive year. The team comes in on a four-game losing streak that includes a midweek loss against Indiana State University and a weekend sweep to Nebraska.

Purdue has struggled to find consistency on the offensive side, as junior outfielder Skyler Hunter is the only player with a batting average above .300

IU's lineup will need to take advantage of whoever Purdue decides to start on the mound. None of Purdue's top three pitchers in terms of earned run average have started a game this season, instead all coming in at the back end of the bullpen. 

IU has a rested pitching staff.

With senior pitcher Pauly Milto lasting six innings in a loss to Penn State on Friday and IU needing just five pitchers total in Saturday’s doubleheader, the team has plenty of options for Wednesday’s starting role.

Sophomore Tommy Sommer claimed the Sunday starting role to start the season before an injury set him back. As junior Andrew Saalfrank has worked his way into that role, IU Coach Jeff Mercer is given the option of sending Sommer out against Purdue. Sommer has a 2.25 ERA this season and saw his first game action in more than a month when he threw two scoreless innings Saturday against Penn State.

IU’s most consistent midweek arm this season has been freshman Gabe Bierman, but he has not been given a start since the team’s March 19 win against Indiana State.

Bierman has made five appearance out of the bullpen since that game, giving up a total of four runs in 10 innings pitched.

IU continues to deal with injuries.

No official word has been given, but it appears that senior catcher Ryan Fineman and senior outfielder Logan Kaletha will continue to miss time due to injuries.

Kaletha has not played since he suffered a lower-body injury while sliding into second base against Iowa on March 24. Fineman’s last game played was March 30 against Maryland.

Senior catcher Wyatt Cross has attempted to fill big shoes behind the plate but has struggled. Cross is hitting .170 on the season and has had eight passed balls.

However, freshman Grant Richardson has had no problem filling in for Kaletha. While junior Matt Gorski has shifted over to Kaletha’s spot in center field, Richardson has taken over right field. In 17 starts this season, Richardson is hitting .343 and has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week twice and Big Ten Player of the Week once. 

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