After a choppy return to Bart Kaufman Field last week, the IU bats awoke with a vengeance in week two in Bloomington. While the cold weather continued, the schedule let up a bit, as the Hoosiers swept four games and improved to 15-4 on the young season. Indiana is now riding a 6 game winning streak as Big Ten play begins this week.
In the four games against Western Illinois and Northern Illinois, IU averaged more than 9 runs and 11 hits per game. In addition to the improved hitting, IU’s pitching staff was dominant. In the four games the Hoosiers gave up a total of 7 runs.
Today we take a look at (i) where the Hoosiers stand in the national rankings, (ii) review the Western Illinois game and the Northern Illinois series, (iii) name our hitter and pitcher of the week, (iv) review the statistical leaders through 19 games, and (v) and take a look at this week’s schedule.
NATIONAL RANKINGS UPDATE
(Rankings updated since the Northern Illinois series in bold. Will be updated throughout the day.)
- RPI: 53rd (updated through 3/18 games; previous 29th). The easier schedule came with a cost.
- USA Today Coaches Poll: 16th (updated 3/19; previous 17th)
- Baseball America: 19th (updated 3/19; previous 18th)
- D1Baseball: 11th (updated 3/19; previous 14th)
- NCBWA: 15th (3/19, previous 17th)
- Collegiate Baseball: 14th (updated 3/19; previous 15th)
- College Baseball Central: 13th (updated 3/19; previous 14th)
REVIEWING WEEK 2 AT HOME
After a rough first week at home, the Hoosiers bats came back to life against Western Illinois. The Hoosiers scored 4 in the bottom of the 1st and never looked back.
Both Luke Miller and Matt Gorski had two hits and drove in a run. One of Miller’s hits was his 6th home run of the year. Wyatt Cross reached base 4 times with a hit and 3 walks. He drove in 3 runs and scored 3 times. Jeremy Houston also delivered 2 RBIs.
In his first start with IU, Connor Manous pitched 4 shutout innings. He was backed up by Tim Herrin, Austin Long, Grant Sloan and Nick Eaton out of the bullpen. Herrin, Sloan and Eaton did not give up any runs.
The Hoosiers exploded out of the gates with 6 runs in the bottom of the first and added 12 more for the game including 7 in the 8th inning.
Leading the hit parade were Logan Kaletha, who was 4-6 with 2 runs and 2 driven in, and Matt Lloyd, who was 4-6 with 3 runs and 4 driven in. Justin Walker hit a grand slam in that 7-run 8th to add insult to injury. Matt Gorski and Ryan Fineman both drove in 2 runs, while Luke Miller was 2-3 with 2 runs.
Perhaps lost in the hitting fireworks was a stellar start from Jonathan Stiever who pitched 6 scoreless innings, giving up only 2 hits. He struck out 7 on the day. Andrew Saalfrank and Austin Long sealed the shutout with 1 and 2 scoreless innings of relief, respectively.
The Hoosiers rallied in the bottom of the 8th inning with back to back home runs from Luke Miller and Logan Sowers to secure the come from behind victory. After falling behind 3-2 in the top of the 8th, Miller and Sowers did their damage within two pitches of one another. It was Miller’s 7th long ball of the year which leads the team.
Miller had 3 hits on the day while Sowers had 2. Elijah Dunham delivered two RBIs on sacrifices.
Pauly Milto had an excellent start, pitching 5 2/3 innings and giving up only 3 hits and no earned runs while striking out 7. B.J. Sabol delivered 1 1/3 of scoreless relief and has yet to give up an earned run on the season. Cal Krueger closed things out and picked up his 5th win of the year.
There was high drama on Sunday at the Bart as the Hoosiers rallied for a run in the bottom of the ninth to pull off a thriller. The Hoosiers had led the game 3-0 and looked to be cruising to victory before Northern Illinois came up with three runs in the top of the eighth. Scotty Bradley delivered a bases load single down the right field line to give the Hoosiers the walk-off win.
Red hot Matt Gorski delivered two hits to go with a steal and a run. Jeremy Houston also had two hits and a run on the day.
Cameron Beauchamp delivered a great start, throwing six shutout innings while only giving up four hits and striking out three. Matt Lloyd earned the win after pitching a scoreless eighth and ninth and striking out four.
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Luke Miller cranked up his batting average from .230 to .286 on the week, going 8 for 16 with 2 home runs, 2 RBIs and 4 runs scored. He also drew 2 walks on the week to reach base an impressive 10 times on 18 plate appearances.
After a bit of a rough start out of the gate, Stiever has rolled through his last two starts. In those two games he has pitches 14 innings, giving up only 7 hits and 1 earned run while striking out 18. He only has a total of 2 walks in the last 2 starts as well. He has seen his ERA drop from 6.61 to 3.86 as a result.
STATISTICAL LEADERS THROUGH 19 GAMES
IU’s season to date statistical leaders through the Northern Illinois series:
THIS WEEK’S SCHEDULE
The Hoosiers have one more home warm-up against Wright State on Tuesday before they hit the road for a 3 game series at Iowa over the weekend to begin Big Ten conference play.
UPDATE: The Wright State game was cancelled with no make up date.
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Main photo and schedule graphic credit – Indiana University