INDIANA BASEBALL: Indiana Takes Down UT Martin, 3-2
MOBILE, Ala. – Coming into the season, pitching was one of the biggest question marks for Indiana. IU head coach Jeff Mercer mentioned that his pitching staff may lack experience, but they wouldn’t lack talent.
On Friday afternoon, IU showed the level of talent that this pitching staff is expected to work with this season. LHP Tommy Sommer gave them the type of performance your No. 1 starter is expected to deliver.
LHP Braden Scott gave IU two innings of near perfect baseball before RHP Connor Manous came in to close it off.
On a day where IU left some runners on base, the pitching staff gave IU a much needed boost to take down UT-Martin, 3-2, in the opening contest of a three-game set this weekend in Mobile, Ala.
“Tommy gave us a really good start,” Mercer said. “He commanded the zone and was able to execute his off-speed pitches.”
INF Cole Barr got IU on the board in the top of the first with a solo home run to left field, his second of the season. But the rest of the day, Indiana missed some opportunities to score more runs.
Sommer allowed a pair of runs to UT-Martin in the bottom of the fourth, but those were quickly matched in the top of the fifth inning by the Hoosiers. DH Tyler Van Pelt singled through the right side to score OF Elijah Dunham, tying the game at 2-2.
INF Jeremy Houston then hit a sac-fly to right field, scoring INF Jordan Fucci to give the Hoosiers a 3-2 lead. IU left 12 runners on base Friday afternoon, but scored three crucial runs when they needed them.
“We’ve got to continue to be better,” Mercer said “I liked where we were at offensively today, but we’ve got to be able to finish innings. You have to be able to execute the plan.”
From there, it was all pitching for IU. The three pitchers for the Hoosiers finished the game with 13 strikeouts, while only allowing eight hits. None of the runs allowed by Sommer were earned.
It marked the first win of the season for Sommer and the first save for Manous. But most importantly, it was a boost of confidence for three of IU’s most veteran pitchers.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Manous worked himself out of a bases loaded jam with back-to-back strikeouts to shut down the UT-Martin threat and seal the victory.
“Overall on the mound, when it’s a poor offensive day from the conditions, wind blowing in, it’s really important that we can command the fastball, get in the zone and force them to put the ball in play,” Mercer said. “We did a really good job on the mound.”
IU can now look towards No. 30 and weekend-host South Alabama Saturday afternoon.
The offense will continue to work its way out once IU’s hitters get more at-bats. But the pitching behind Sommer, Scott and Manous will give Mercer a feeling of comfort as IU continues to navigate its way through a brutal non-conference schedule.