INDIANA BASEBALL RELEASE
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Logan Sowers doubled his pleasure Sunday afternoon.
And the No. 3 hole in the batting order seems to agree with him.
The Indiana senior, shifting up a slot from cleanup this weekend, drilled three doubles and supplied three RBI in Sunday’s 4-2 win over Pacific.
“That was nice,” said appreciative IU coach Chris Lemonis. “We haven’t had a lot of offensive production this week, all week. His couple of big swings really helped. Helps you breathe a little bit.”
Sunday was another taut contest characteristic of the entire three-game series, including Pacific’s 2-1 win Friday and IU’s 3-1 win Saturday. But the Tigers’ lone error of the game Sunday proved fatal.
Pacific had already turned a nifty quartet of double-plays when what looked initially like another twin-killing grounder came off Matt Lloyd’s bat with one on and none out in the Hoosier eighth. But the ball was erred, setting the table for Sowers.
And Sowers scalded his third two-bagger of the day, a frozen rope down the left field line to score Logan Kaletha, who had reached on a hit-by-pitch and taken second on the error. After a fielder’s choice got Sowers to third, he scored an insurance run on Luke Miller’s sacrifice fly.
Miller, who led off the seventh with a double only to get stranded, hit the ball hard all day after Lemonis shifted him in the batting order, too.
“I’m just trying to let Luke breathe a little bit,” Lemonis said. “He got into a little cold spell. One of the best hitters in the country. I moved it around. I thought he swung it really well today. Had a couple of missiles.”
The first missile launch of the day came off the bat of Pacific’s James Free, whose double up the left center gap scored Kevin Sandri from first in the top of the first.
That 1-0 lead lasted into the bottom of the third before Sowers began making Pacific pay for the balance of the afternoon. Kaletha, who was hit by a pitch, and Lloyd, who worked a two-out walk, paved the way for Sowers’ two-run double up the left-center gap.
Hoosier freshman starter Tommy Sommer, son of IU soccer goaltending great Juergen Sommer, made that 2-1 edge stand up before exiting due to a pitch-count limitation after four innings of work.
“He was good,” Lemonis said of Sommer. “That first inning was a little rocky. Just threw a couple of balls down the middle, I think. Once he got that out of him, he kind of got into a groove and pitched well.
“I think we pitched well across the board. Cam Beauchamp came in and did a real nice job, showed good stuff.”
Pacific (7-10) did manage an unearned run off Beaucamp to tie the game in the sixth. Indiana (11-4) then couldn’t capitalize on Sowers’ one-out double in its half of the frame, but not for lack of trying.
Ryan Fineman’s liner required a diving Tyler Ryan catch in left, then Matt Gorski lined into a running Bradley Jekich catch in right.
“Pacific, I give them a lot of credit,” Lemonis said. “They played hard all week. (That) dive down the line. They just didn’t let us have anything. It was a pretty stressful week.”
Both offenses stressed the defenses as the game entered its stretch run. Pacific’s Cooper Casad does a fine job pitching the leadoff Miller double in the Indiana seventh. IU’s Brian Hobbie and Cal Krueger had to do the same after Nate Verrin’s shot to left-center started the Pacific eighth.
Pacific had men at first and third with one down when Krueger got a big swinging strikeout of Keaton Glover and then induced a groundout by Jekich, featuring a fine play by Hoosier shortstop Jeremy Houston.
“Cal, besides the wild pitch to start it, did real well, too,” Lemonis said. “He’s just learning to be a closer a little bit. He’s got a real live arm and he just likes to do a little too much with it sometimes, but to be able to relax (and get that K) was huge for him.”
Then came the decisive IU eighth.
Kaletha was again hit by a pitch leading off a frame. Given the 2-2 deadlock and the double-play scourge that had afflicted IU all week, Lemonis contemplated a sacrifice bunt to get Kaletha into scoring position.
“I debated,” Lemonis recalled. “I’m just not a fan of bunting. Especially when we can steal (with Kaletha’s speed) and it’s one of our better power hitters (up).”
Miller hit the ground ball. It was booted.
And that brought Sowers to the plate.
“They tried to pitch me in all weekend,” Sowers said. “My timing was just a little bit off. Today, I was like, ‘I’m going to get the head (of the bat) out,’ and it worked for me.
“We had a couple tough losses (this week, including Tuesday’s 8-3 loss to Cincinnati). Coach called them speed bumps. Every team is going to have those. We’re a good team. We bounced back and played well the last two games.”
Despite the IU offense finishing just 6 of 45 with runners in scoring position through the week’s four games.
“We still didn’t get too much offense, so maybe I should have shifted it in another direction,” Lemonis said. I’ll continue to tinker with the lineup, look at left and right (matchups).
“Pitching and defense shows up every day. That’s why I was a little frustrated Friday night (when IU lost via defensive miscues). I felt we could have still squeaked it out, not playing our best baseball. But we did a nice job here (today), just being able to contain them.”
IU has 4:05 p.m. home games slated for Tuesday and Wednesday against Western Illinois before hosting Northern Illinois for games Friday (6:05 p.m.), Saturday (2:05 p.m.) and Sunday (1:05 p.m.) this week.