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Middle Infield Keys Indiana Win Over Indiana State

Shortstop Jeremy Houston at the plate during Indiana’s win over Indiana State. Houston recorded his first hit since March 18 in the win. (Josh Eastern/HN)

Freshman Justin Walker and sophomore Jeremy Houston have been going opposite directions in terms of their production at the plate.

Before Tuesday, Houston hadn’t recorded a hit since March 18. However, in the previous five games for Walker, he had driven in 10 runs. But Tuesday was a night for them to share the spotlight.

Behind two RBI’s each from the middle infield duo of Walker and Houston, the Hoosiers completed the season sweep over Indiana State with a 6-1 win at Bart Kaufman Field.

“It was nice,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said of his middle infield’s production. “I thought the hit of the game was Justin’s, that two out hit. We were just struggling along. And then the last one by Jeremy, hopefully that will give him a bit of confidence.”

Coming into the season, big things were expected from Houston. He was coming off a freshman campaign where he was successful at the plate and in the field. The sophomore slump has been a real thing. Because of that, Walker got the start at shortstop for the entire weekend series at Purdue.

Walker has been a player that has burst onto the scene as just a freshman. He has 12 RBI’s in the last six games and has provided a nice bat for IU at the bottom of the order. He’s now hitting over .300 for the season and said he is starting to feel more comfortable playing at the college level.

“Now that I’m playing well, there’s a lot more confidence,” Walker said. “Baseball you always have to have confidence and that’s what I try to play with every day.”

Tuesday night was another example as to why this IU can be so dominant. Unlike the Purdue series, the Hoosiers didn’t commit an error. The pitching was there behind five innings from starter Tim Herrin. And of course the bats were ready to go with eight of the nine starters reaching base.

But this was a night that belonged to the middle infield. Both Walker and Houston showed off their speed and Lemonis said Walker’s RBI double in the sixth was the hit of the game. It turned out to be the game-winning hit.

“It was a 3-2 count so I was kind of expecting a fastball to come since he didn’t want to walk me especially being a low hitter in the order,” Walker said. “I was just looking to get a fastball and put it into the outfield and hopefully we could score some runs and that’s what happened.”

Walker continued his hot hitting, but even he said it was big for Houston to check in with his eighth inning triple. Houston has shown during his time in Bloomington how prolific he can be with his glove. Lemonis has said how good he thinks his bat can be, but he just hasn’t gotten into a grove at the plate.

Moving forward, these two underclassmen could provide a welcome spark at the bottom of the order.

“When they’re playing good, it’s exciting,” Lemonis said. “It’s nice to have them out there. They’re pretty versatile, they can do some different things.”

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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