By: Adam Braunstein
Following a disappointing 5-4 defeat to UIC in walk-off fashion, Spencer Allen’s Wildcats will look to improve their Big Ten record as they take on the Purdue Boilermakers (7-34, 2-16).
Northwestern has lost seven straight heading into the weekend series, but the ‘Cats have been playing better record than their 0-7 record in that stretch suggests. Five out of seven, and each of the past four losses, have been by a single run. And while Wednesday’s loss to a Horizon League team stings, playing three close games in Bloomington against the Hoosiers (26-16, 11-4) is a step in the right direction for the Wildcats.
Returning to Miller Park to play the struggling Boilermakers should provide the Wildcats with a golden opportunity to get some elusive wins. Purdue has not won a game since April 22nd when they beat the Maryland Terrapins 7-1.
One advantage Northwestern will look to take advantage of is a weak Boilermakers lineup. In the teams past six games, the Boilermakers have only managed to get nine runs across the plate. The Boilermakers’ batting struggles have been more than a recent phenomenon; on the year, Purdue is last in the Big Ten with a .249 team batting average, .010 points back of the next closest team.
One batter that who could cause problems for the NU pitching staff is redshirt senior Kyle Wood. On the year, Wood trails only Minnesota’s Austin Athmann for the most home runs in the Big Ten.
Pitching will likely be an area that neither club has a great advantage in. Northwestern currently has the worst team ERA in the Big Ten, while Purdue’s 5.55 staff ERA is the second worst in the conference.
Both of these teams are a long way from being able to compete with the top teams in the Big Ten, but the weekend series provides Northwestern with a glorious opportunity to improve their record and give the fans at Miller Park something to smile about.
WNUR Sports will have the call for all three games, which can be heard live over WNUR’s Rabble page, which can be found by clicking here.