With around a month left in the regular season, Indiana baseball is in a good position.
Jeff Mercer’s squad sits in first place in the Big Ten standings, with a 9-3 conference record. And with a 30-11 overall record, the Hoosiers are the first Big Ten team to hit 30 wins. IU reached that mark over the weekend with a series sweep over Ohio, which also helped the team crack the Baseball America Top 25 rankings.
IU is currently riding a seven-game winning streak. The Hoosiers actually got off to a tough start, with losses in four of their first six games — all four came in road games at Auburn and Texas. But IU has now won 25 of its last 30 games, dating back to March 8.
Indiana has been particularly good at Bart Kaufman Field this season, with a 22-1 home record thus far.
The Hoosiers took home a pair of Big Ten weekly honors on Monday, as infielder Tyler Cerny was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week and freshman Ethan Phillips was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week. Cerny racked up a 1.601 OPS over five games last week, including a 1.056 slugging percentage. Phillips pitched 8.1 innings of shutout baseball in relief work, with nine strikeouts and just one hit and four walks allowed. He earned two wins during the week.
The big key for Indiana coming into this season was improvement on the mound. IU’s offense last season was young, but productive. But the Hoosiers had trouble keeping opposing bats quiet and wound up in a lot of high-scoring contests.
But IU’s pitching has gotten better this season. The Hoosiers own a 4.58 team ERA and a 1.42 WHIP, both of which rank third in the Big Ten. And IU is second in the conference with a 2.26 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Last season, IU had a 7.04 ERA, a 1.74 WHIP, and a 1.81 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Sophomore Luke Sinnard, a Western Kentucky transfer, has helped turn things around for IU’s pitching staff this year. He leads the Hoosiers with 54 innings pitched across 10 starts, and the team is 9-1 in those games. He owns a 4.00 ERA, a 1.13 WHIP, and a 5.29 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His 74 strikeout rank third in the Big Ten.
Junior Seti Manase transferred in from Tacoma Community College this year, and he’s been excellent in smaller doses. He’s started 11 games, with 13 total appearances, but has thrown 30.1 innings. But he’s been very effective, with a 1.78 ERA, a 1.32 WHIP, and a 1.77 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sophomore Ryan Kraft has tied for the team lead with 15 appearances, all in relief, and leads the team with five saves. He’s second in innings pitched at 40.2, and has posted a 1.33 ERA, a 1.23 WHIP, and a 2.40 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
Offensively, freshman outfielder Devin Taylor has excelled, with three Big Ten Freshman of the Week awards — second-most in a single season by a Hoosier. Taylor has a 1.240 OPS (fifth in the Big Ten) along with a team-high 11 home runs, which is tied for sixth in the Big Ten, and 40 RBIs.
Sophomore catcher Brock Tibbits has also had a strong season, with a 1.097 OPS and six home runs. He also leads IU with 50 RBIs, which is tied for third in the Big Ten. Fifth-year senior infielder Phillip Glasser owns a 1.021 OPS with four home runs, a team-high 16 doubles, and 34 RBIs.
IU has a midweek standalone game at Ball State on Tuesday. And then the Hoosiers host a key Big Ten series at Bart Kaufman Field against Maryland, which sits one game behind IU in the conference standings.
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