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NCAA baseball tourney  could be coming to Gary

Gary RailCats pitcher Derrick Gordgets ready throw first pitch against Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks U.S. Steel Yard Friday May 20 2011 Gary

Gary RailCats pitcher Derrick Gordon gets ready to throw the first pitch against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks at the U.S. Steel Yard Friday, May 20, 2011, in Gary, Ind. Friday marked the tenth opening day for the RailCats in Gary. | Scott M. Bort~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 3, 2012 11:33AM



Purdue’s baseball program is in the midst of its most successful season in more than a century.

The Boilermakers won the Big Ten Tournament on Saturday in Columbus, Ohio, with a 6-5 win over rival Indiana that included a bench-clearing melee that delayed the game 15 minutes. Purdue also had won the regular-season championship, its first since 1909.

“This is an amazing feeling,” said Purdue designated hitter Ryan Bridges, a Griffith grad. “We’ve never won this tournament and we were able to win an intense. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”

What’s the next stop for 15th-ranked Purdue? It’s likely going to be Gary’s U.S. Steel Yard for an NCAA Regional.

“It’s obviously a goal to host a regional,” said Purdue reliever Blake Mascarello, a Crown Point grad. “It would be a big honor for the program. I don’t think we feel entitled to host a regional. The selection committee will do their job and we just have to hope for the best.”

Baseball America has Purdue as a “lock” to host a regional, which would not be held on campus due to a lack of seating at Lambert Field. Purdue was to open this season in Alexander Field, a new $10.3 million stadium, but construction was delayed to the point where holding a regional wasn’t even feasible.

Once it became evident Purdue was in contention to host a regional, alternate sites were scouted, including varying degrees of interest shown into Fort Wayne’s Parkview Field, Indianapolis’ Victory Field, and even Wrigley Field.

In the end, the Steel Yard was the only viable option that did not have scheduling conflicts for the regional, which would be held June 1-4.

Purdue (44-12) will find out its NCAA fate today, having earned an automatic bid by winning the Big Ten Tournament. If the Steel Yard is to host a regional, Purdue would be the No. 1 seed in the four-team, double-elimination tournament.

“It would be great for the school (to host) and it would be great to do it even closer to home where coaches, friends and family can watch,” Bridges said. “I would expect we would have a great deal of support.”

There are plenty of region connections on Purdue’s roster, including coach Doug Schreiber, a LaPorte native who became the program’s winningest coach this season.

Along with Mascarello and Bridges, Conner Podkul of LaPorte has made several starts in Big Ten play as the team’s No. 3 starter. The roster also includes infielder Kyle Upp (LaPorte) and pitcher Mike Sudbury (Munster).

Purdue is 0-2 all-time in the NCAA Tournament, losing both games at the 1987 Mississippi State Regional.



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