INDIANA BASEBALL RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – No, the spiffy Bart Kaufman Field scoreboard electronics were not fried.

They accurately read: Two. Two. Two. Two. Two.

Indiana’s host Hoosiers had indeed scored two runs per inning during frames two through six Sunday afternoon.

But then it was two-squared with four Hoosier runs in the seventh. Then they doubled that with eight in the eighth.

It was like a Noah’s Ark theme. They came in two-by-two. Then came the flood.

And it all added up to numbers such as these:

  • 22. An IU season-high in runs, compared to one run for visiting Northwestern.
  • 21. An IU season-high in hits, featuring three homers (from Scotty Bradley, Logan Sowers and Wyatt Cross) and six doubles.
  • 20. Games over .500 now for the No. 10-ranked Hoosiers (26-6 overall and 6-2 in Big Ten play).
  • .413. Scotty Bradley’s batting average for the season through 46 at bats.
  • .302. Indiana’s team batting average through 32 games.
  • 40. Runs for Indiana during the series (counting the 12-0 and 6-3 double-header sweep Friday), the most since the Hoosiers scored 40 in three games against Michigan in 2010.

 

Oh, and then there is IU’s 2.34 earned-run-average, down from 2.47 heading into the weekend, which already ranked third in the nation. The Hoosiers rank second in ERA now, behind only Stetson.

There is a tough stretch of schedule coming up now – starting with Tuesday night’s game at Victory Field in Indianapolis against Notre Dame, Wednesday night’s home game with Ball State and a weekend series at Ohio State (24-10 overall, 6-3 in Big Ten play).

But if folks haven’t yet quite figured it out, this could end up being a special Indiana team. It is talented. It is deep. It is balanced. It is experienced. It is mature. It is hungry. And, goodness gracious, it is hot right now.

“It’s a great team,” Bradley, the sophomore first-sacker, said matter-of-factly after Sunday’s romp. “It’s definitely a special group. It’s a great group of guys. We definitely all love each other a lot and we all really enjoy coming to the ballpark each day and pulling for one another.

“It showed a lot today, with guys just coming off the bench and producing. We can mix and match so much. Through and through, it’s a terrific group and we all appreciate one another and love the time we spend at the field with each other. We don’t take it for granted, that’s for sure. We don’t want it to come to an end anytime soon.”

Northwestern (9-20, 1-11) could have been excused for wondering if Sunday’s game would ever end – especially after a seemingly interminable IU eighth during which saw 14 Hoosiers bat.

But that overall tone was set much earlier. The anomaly was the first inning, when both teams managed a single but failed to score. After that, Hoosier bats rang out consistently. And loudly.

Indiana started the scoring in the second. After a walk to Ryan Fineman and bunt single by Matt Gorski, Bradley advanced the runners with a sac bunt and Drew Ashley delivered them both with a lined single to right.

And then the two-run Hoosier innings kept right on coming.

Logan Kaletha – who reached base six times in seven plate appearances — worked a leadoff walk in the third. Matt Lloyd laid down a sac bunt and Northwestern pitcher Jack Pagliarini overthrew first. Sowers walked to load the bases, preceding good situational hitting via back-to-back sac flies from Fineman (who didn’t miss a grand slam by much) and Gorski.

IU, on its way to playing an errorless game afield, got a great defensive play by Sowers to keep the Wildcats off the board in the fourth.

Northwestern’s Jack Claeys was on second with two down and Charlie Maxwell smoked a single to right. Sowers charged the ball his throw home – on the fly – had Claeys out by five feet.

IU made it 6-0 in its half of the fourth. Justin Walker whacked a leadoff double and Jeremy Houston, on his way to a season-high three hits, followed with a single. Walker then scored on a wild pitch, with Houston taking second, then stealing third. Sowers lined single to center scored Houston.

NU did get on the board in the fifth as Kyle Burnett worked a one-out walk, stole second and came home on Jack Dunn’s lined two-out single to left center.

Gorski beat out an infield single to start the Hoosier half of the fifth and further showcased his wheels by stealing second, then third (snagging his 13th and 14th bag thefts of the season). Bradley walked, then stole second, and followed Gorski home after Houston hammered a double to right-center.

Bradley blasted his fourth homer of the year well beyond the rightfield fence, a two-run shot in the sixth.

“I think I’m seeing it well,” Bradley said of his 13 of 24 stretch of the plate since March 30. “In baseball, when you’re seeing it well, things work out. I think I’m having fun and just trying to stay focused and enjoy the process. Baseball is a tough game. There’s gonna be ups and downs. I’m just enjoying the ups right now.

“It was a hung changeup. He (NU’s Danny Katz) had pretty good stuff. The first fastball he threw really surprised me a little bit … I just think he left a changeup up and I was able to get a good piece of it.”

IU’s four-run seventh featured a Houston single, a Kaletha double and back-to-back homers from Logan Sowers (his fifth this year) and Wyatt Cross (his career first.)

“It was awesome,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said of Cross getting his chance for a career milestone. “The last two weeks, I’ve talked to the team afterwards, with Luke (Miller) out, it’s made us catch Fineman a little more, so Wyatt’s lost a start or two.

“When you come in and hit a home run, it tells you your mind’s in the right place. He’s such a good kid, he hasn’t sat around and pouted. He just works and it’s all about the team. And the game rewards you.”

The rewards were well distributed in the eight-run eighth, which included two hits off the bench by freshman Sam Crail (a double and a single) and singles from fellow reserves Laren Eustace and Colby Stratten to go with four walks, a hit batsman and a key NU error. Wildcat backup catcher Nick Paciorek was pitching before it was over.

IU got a strong five-inning start from sophomore Cam Beauchamp, who fanned six and allowed just the one earned run. Brian Hobbie, Andrew Saalfrank and Connor Manous were all very strong in relief.

Lemonis just wanted to get them some work. His bullpen was spared all weekend. IU only utilized four pitchers during Friday’s double-header.

“I think he can still pitch better. I know that sounds crazy, but he’s got such good stuff and he’s learning on the run,” Lemonis said of Beauchamp. “Then it was (Saalfrank) and Connor and Brian Hobbie.

“That shows you the depth, because there are weeks where don’t pitch those guys for a whole week and they’re really, really good players. Getting them out there was huge.”

IU is making believers out of people regarding both pitching and hitting.

“We throw a ton of strikes and we have a lot of depth,” Lemonis said of his staff. “Another piece is Pauly (Milto) and Jon (Stiever) have been so good at the front of the rotation. It sets the tone for everybody, but it also lets us pitch everybody rested. I mean, we haven’t had to stretch anybody really all year. Maybe Matt Lloyd on Sunday against Purdue (in five innings of scoreless relief) was the only stretch, and he was still pitching great.

“I thought we did a great job this weekend of controlling the strike zone (offensively), too. That’s something we haven’t done a great job of (during) my time here. Slowly, we’ve been a little better, a little better, and that’s why we’re starting to hit for a better average. (We drew) a lot of walks. And we made them pitch a lot more pitches than us this weekend.”

Indiana is probably also believing in its all-red Sunday uniform sets. The Hoosiers are 8-0 in those.

“We always joke that they’re the Tiger Woods uniforms – we bring them out on Sunday,” Bradley said. “It’s the Sunday Tiger red. We enjoy playing in them. It’s cool, we feel like Santa Claus every Sunday … we’ve had good success so far with them, so hopefully we’ll keep it up.”

The Hoosiers are considering breaking out the all-reds for Tuesday’s 7 p.m. game at Victory Field.

“I call them the Kool-Aid (reds),” Lemonis said. “I’m like the Kool-Aid man (out there.) I think they said before the game that Notre Dame had reached out and wants us to wear our reds and they’re going to wear their greens, so we’re going to call it the Christmas game.

“We’ll see what happens. We usually wear them on Sundays, but it might be a neat night to do that Tuesday night.”