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Chalk Talk: Previewing Purdue with Hammer and Rails

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Ahead of this weekend's series with the Boilermakers, I got a chance to chat briefly with markoftheking25, my counterpart over at the SB Nation Purdue blog Hammer And Rails about the rough start his team is off to.

PodKATT: The last most LSU baseball fans have heard from Purdue Baseball was the 2012 NCAA regional run that ended unceremoniously in Gary, Indiana after losses to Kent St and Kentucky. How’s the program been since then and how is that new stadium working out?

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Markoftheking25: The new stadium is great, a major upgrade from the old field, Lambert Field. Not quiet Alex Box style but definitely state of the art facility. Locker room, training room, meeting room, 3 indoor batting cages along with 1 outdoor, biggest dugouts in the Big Ten along with 3 suites and media occupied areas. Last year's season was rough when following up the 2012 'dreamteam season' The team struggled to find a consistent weekend rotation and finishing up with a record of 17-34.

PK: I’m trying my best to be delicate here, but for only 7 games in, the numbers on that pitching staff are atrocious. Was this kind of production expected heading into the year and what do you hope to see emerge out of that bullpen before B1G play starts in late March?

M: Just like last year, we are struggling to find a solid weekend rotation. Pitching has obviously struggled early on against powerhouse hitting teams. I personally thought it was going to be a little bit better than last year but I have noticed that the players are finally starting to settle down.

PK: Purdue enters the weekend 1-7, but 6 of those losses are to the always tough Rice and a surprisingly still undefeated Tennessee. Unfortunately, none of those losses were really close. What was your outlook on this season at the beginning and how do you think the Boilermakers will fare the rest of the year?

M: In both series, we have played two close and hard fought games, 3-0 and 3-1 then a moderate blow out 8-2 and 9-1 then the real blow outs 23-3 and 20-2. Both weekends the closely fought game was the series opener, and against Rice I thought we were going to come back and take Saturday's game after only losing 3-1 but I am honestly not sure what happened, the team went down hill for the rest of the weekend. I believe that some of our guys are still working to get into the groove and settle down. With not having been able to practice outside at all, the defense struggles at times with fly balls which cause for missed easy outs to support our pitching staff. I think the team will have an excellent Big Ten season, winning 4 out of 7 series and making the Big Ten tournament.

PK: Top 9, 2 outs, runner on 2B, down 1. Who do you want at the plate?

M: Kyle Wood, leading batting avg and slug% with 5 doubles so far