News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Indiana State University

May 15, 2012

Indiana State’s Rupe gets test today at No. 13 Purdue

Indiana State’s late-scheduled baseball game at No. 13 Purdue today has many benefits, not the least of which is that ISU’s NCAA Tournament chances increase merely by playing the game as the Sycamores’ strength of schedule gets a shot in the arm.

Beating the Boilermakers – 16th in the Ratings Percentage Index – could cement an NCAA at-large bid for the Sycamores.

It also serves as an unofficial state championship. Purdue and ISU have combined for 79 wins and each has beaten some combination of the other state Division I programs.

“It’s definitely a good pick-up for us. They’re one of the best teams in the country. If we can win? It’ll set us more for the tournament,” ISU catcher Jeremy Lucas said. “We want to try to win and be the best team in the state.”

Those are the wider implications, but within the team, there are other benefits to the game, notably, for ISU’s fourth starting pitcher Kyle Rupe.

For ISU to make a run at either the Missouri Valley Conference Tournament or the NCAA Tournament, it’s going to need more than just the weekend starting rotation of Dakota Bacus, Sean Manaea and Ryan Torgerson to succeed. Rupe will also have to pitch important games and the opportunity to pitch against Purdue will provide a welcome acid test.

“That was one of the reasons we felt the need to play this week. With it being Purdue, makes it even a better environment for Kyle. For us to win the [MVC] tournament or a win a regional, Kyle’s going to have to win a game. This will be a great trial run for him,” ISU coach Rick Heller said.

Rupe – a freshman from Indianapolis – has been effective in midweek action this season. The right-handed pitcher is 6-1 with an ERA of 2.95. He’s also the only ISU pitcher with over 50 innings pitched who hasn’t conceded a home run.

That unblemished record will be tested against the powerful Boilermakers at 4 p.m. today. Purdue (39-10) ranks fifth in the nation with a .332 average. Seven Purdue starters hit .322 or better, with second baseman Eric Charles (.369) and third baseman Cameron Perkins (.369) co-leading the way.

Purdue showed their plate prowess in a May 6 game at UCLA. The nationally ranked Bruins led 10-5 going into the top of the ninth in Los Angeles, only to have the Boilers put a 10-spot on the board in the ninth on their way to a 15-11 triumph.

“They’re a very strong hitting team. We’ll have to pitch well to beat them and not many teams have this year,” Heller said.

The game will be an emotional one for Purdue. It will be the last game played at Purdue’s 47-year-old Lambert Field. The Boilers will move into new Alexander Field next season … the Sycamores are among the teams that will play there in 2013.

 The game could also serve as a preview for a possible NCAA Tournament rematch. All of the NCAA Tournament projections that have ISU in the field have the Sycamores playing in a projected Purdue Regional.

The trouble is that Lambert Field, which has no lights, cannot host the regional. Purdue is searching for alternative sites with Gary’s U.S. Steel Yard Field being the current favorite. But other options are still being pursued. Baseball America reported last week in a blog that Purdue wanted to possibly host at Wrigley Field in Chicago.

“It’s a cool thing that both schools are having the kind of year we’re having,” Heller said.

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