From the opening at-bat Friday night, Indiana baseball junior outfielder Logan Kaletha jumpstarted the Hoosier offense.
He hammered a fastball on the second pitch of the game over the left field wall for his third home run of the season to give Indiana a 1-0 lead against Northern Illinois.
From there, the Hoosier offense would go on to score five more runs in the first inning and 17 more in the entire game cruising to a 18-0 series opening win.
“They started me off with the outside fastball so I kind of knew that they’re going to throw a fastball down the middle,” Kaletha said. “I just wanted to put a good swing on it.”
Putting a good swing on it is exactly what Kaletha did Friday night and what he’s done all year in the lead off spot for Indiana. The junior college transfer from John A. Logan College went 4-for-6 at the plate Friday against Northern Illinois and finished a triple shy of the cycle.
IU center fielder @LoganKaletha's lead off HR and career high 4 hits jumpstarted the Hoosier baseball offense to a 18-0 win over Northern Illinois today.
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) March 17, 2018
He’s the prototypical lead off hitter, showcasing speed, contact and power. After Friday’s first career four hit game at Indiana, he upped his batting average to .339 on the season and on base percentage to .512.
Oh, and he’s also slugging .629, leading the entire team.
So what makes him such a good lead off hitter?
“Personally I’m a pretty aggressive hitter and coach Lem and I sat down and talked a little bit, be more patient, which kind of helps getting hit by pitch and walked a lot more,” He said. “And then it gives me the opportunity to hit a good baseball when it’s presented.”
Kaletha didn’t walk or get hit by a pitch Friday night, but on the year he’s drawn 11 walks and he leads the nation with 11 hit by pitches.
His batting average was at .325 after the first 11 games of the season when the Hoosiers were in Myrtle Beach, Florida and San Diego.
When Indiana returned home, he and the entire team had slumped a little at the plate. Three games into the home stand, his average dropped to .300 and IU coach Chris Lemonis knew he was wasn’t showcasing his full potential.
“Not to say anything bad about him, but he’s better than what he’s showing,” IU head coach Chris Lemonis said after Saturday’s game last week against Pacific. “If we can get him relaxed and get him on a hot streak, he’s a very talented player. I think he’s pressing a little bit right now, but I think we’ll see his better side out there.”
After Friday’s four hit performance, Kaletha is on that hot streak, and Hoosier fans were able to see how talented he is at the plate.
Do you like home runs?
Indiana Baseball hit 2 home runs in its 18-0 rout over Northern Illinois tonight.
— Zain Pyarali (@ZainPyarali) March 17, 2018
“As a lead off he can do a lot of things,” Lemonis said following Friday’s win. “He can steal, he’s a pretty good average guy, and he’s got some pop, so it’s nice to have him there.”
The first 17 games of Kaletha’s IU career have been a success. His first home run was a walk off grand slam against South Alabama in the third game of the year, he’s started every game in center field and he’s among the team leader in every major offensive category.
He mashed the ball in two years in junior college at John A. Logan hitting over .350 with 17 home runs in both seasons and he’s done the same so far for Indiana in division-I baseball.
“It’s baseball, it’s just a different environment,” Kaletha said about the change from junior college to divison-1. “I mean that kind of gets to you, can’t really beat this coming from where I went. But baseball is still the same, just gotta put a bat on ball.”