3/23/18 Lipscomb, Alec Olund

Senior pinch hitter Alex Olund hits the ball in the bottom of the ninth against Lipscomb on March 23.

Coming off of a disappointing midweek loss to visiting a Ball State (16-15, 4-5), Purdue (15-13, 4-2) is looking to improve on it’s Big Ten conference record against Minnesota (21-10, 5-1) at Alexander Field. This will be the first conference series for the Boilermakers at home this season.

Interestingly enough, the Golden Gophers came down to West Lafayette last weekend to meet a struggling Penn State team (7-19, 1-8) in a three game series. While they did not have a home field advantage, Minnesota still performed well winning all three of those games.

“They might know all the bumps and nooks and crannies that are out there,” junior infielder Jacson McGowan said. “It’s still our home field, we’re gonna have the fans.”

McGowan’s presence has been huge for the Boilermakers this season as he is the team’s most consistent hitter. Midway through the season he is leading the team in home runs (nine), RBIs (36), batting average (.327), and slugging percentage (.634). He is also one of five players on the team to have started every game this season.

Senior outfielder Alec Olund has made great contributions to Purdue this season both offensively and defensively. In the series against Indiana last weekend, he had a pair of hits and an RBI, along with five putouts in the outfield.

“I thought we battled,” Olund said. “We went head to head, toe to toe, with one of the best teams in the country and in our conference. I think we’ve really improved and showed people that we can hang around with anybody … I think we’re going to be dangerous as the season progresses.”

The Boilers can put themselves in a good position for the rest of the season if they win the series this weekend. Minnesota currently sits at second in the Big Ten standings with one more win than Purdue in conference play. Head coach Mark Wasikowski knows the importance of this series and the home field advantage they will have this weekend.

“Personally I’m looking forward to playing at home,” Wasikowski said. “I think it’ll be great, hopefully the weather will be nice and we’ll have a nice crowd out.”

Last season, the Boilers were able to take two of three games from the Golden Gophers in a regular season series finale. The wins propelled Purdue into it’s first Big Ten tournament since 2012, and it also prevented Minnesota from winning the Big Ten regular season title.

“I think they’re a very veteran club,” Wasikowski said. “They’ve got some very good offense and some hitters that are very good. They have the reigning pitcher of the week in our conference coming into town. They’re definitely going to be a team that’s going to be at the top of the league at the end of this thing vying for a conference championship.”

Game one of the series will begin at 6 p.m. on Friday night with senior pitcher Tanner Andrews expected to start for Purdue. Fans can watch the game live on BTN2GO or follow the game live on purduesports.com.

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