Boilermakers Open Regional Play Versus Valparaiso Friday
June 1, 2012Eastern Indiana Sports
PURDUE SPORTS INFORMATION
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Friday's Probable Starting Pitchers
GARY, Ind.-- No. 14 Purdue baseball opens NCAA Tournament play against a familiar foe, taking on Valparaiso Friday evening at 8 p.m. on day one of the Gary Regional at U.S. Steel Yard.
The Boilermakers (44-12) and Crusaders (35-23) will meet for the 82nd time in a series that dates back to 1949, but Friday's game between the in-state rivals stands as the most significant. The winner advances to Saturday night where it will play the winner of Friday's Kentucky-Kent State game. The loser faces elimination and the potential end of its season Saturday afternoon vs. UK or KSU.
Every Purdue game this weekend at the Gary Regional will be televised live on the Big Ten Network.
Purdue and Valparaiso have both enjoyed similar record-setting seasons. Each team won its respective conference's regular-season and tournament titles and posted a program-record win total. Lengthy NCAA Tournament droughts have also come to an end. The Boilermakers are playing in a Regional for the first time since 1987. The Crusaders earned a national postseason berth for the first time since 1976 and are making their first appearance in the Division I field since 1968.
Kent State has the most NCAA Regional experience of any team at U.S. Steel Yard this weekend. The Golden Flashes won the Mid-American Conference Tournament for the fourth consecutive year. Last season they pushed Texas to a Monday if-necessary game in the Austin Regional. Kentucky is in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.
U.S. Steel Yard was playing big during Thursday's official team practices despite featuring a left field foul pole that is only 320 feet from home plate. Valparaiso has scored runs utilizing a small-ball approach for much of the year, ranking second in the nation with 84 sacrifice bunts. While posting just a .362 team slugging percentage (Purdue's is .436), the Crusaders have relied on capitalizing on their opportunities and timely hitting.
Tanner Vavra will bunt for a hit or to advance a runner (22 sac bunts), get hit by a pitch (21) and try to steal a base (15-of-19). Elliot Martin (50 RBI) and Will Hagel (42) have been the primary run producers in the middle of the lineup. John Loeffler leads the team with 17 doubles.
On the mound, lefty Tyler Deetjen is a workhorse and a strike thrower. He has pitched 114 2/3 innings in his 16 appearances, averaging over 7 1/3 innings per start. He made his first relief appearance of the year in Sunday's Horizon League Tournament championship game win at Illinois-Chicago. The senior pitches to contact, compiling 60 strikeouts and only 11 walks in his 114 innings.
Valpo's bullpen is anchored by sidearmer Jarad Miller, who has five wins and eight saves in 28 appearances. He has surrendered only five extra-base hits in 43 2/3 innings.
Purdue last played the Crusaders at U.S. Steel Yard in 2005. Last year's schedule game in Valparaiso was rained out. Valpo was originally scheduled to visit West Lafayette for a three-game series with the Boilers the weekend of 4-6, but had to cancel after the Horizon League went to a double round-robin conference schedule.