In the game of baseball, it’s often the little things such as base running and executing with runners in scoring position that separate wins from losses.
For Indiana baseball, it struggled heavily in both of those categories Tuesday night at home against No. 21 Kentucky, losing 7-6.
The Hoosiers have now lost eight of their last 10 games and have seen their record go from 29-6 to 31-14 in the last 10 games.
“It’s been like that for two weeks,” IU Head Coach Chris Lemonis said. “We just keep losing close games and we’re leaving guys out there and not executing.”
“It’s time for us to push through the door and start playing good baseball.”
Indiana had numerous chances to beat Kentucky tonight, but poor base-running and 13 men left on base were key cogs in the 7-6 loss.
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) May 9, 2018
Indiana had numerous occasions to drive in runs against the Wildcats, but either failed to by poor base running or poor situational hitting. In the end, they left 13 men on base and hit just two-for-11 with runners in scoring position.
Plays that could have changed the game for Indiana
Since Indiana missed so many opportunities tonight that could have been a difference maker in winning this game, we’re going to list them out.
- With runners on first and second and one out in the bottom of the third, Indiana center fielder Logan Kaletha was picked off at second base for the second out of the inning with Indiana’s best hitter Matt Gorski at the plate.
Gorski would go on to hit a single down the line later in the same at-bat that would have scored Kaletha. Lemonis actually benched his center fielder because he got picked off.
Kaletha has jump-started the offense in the leadoff spot all season long, but is just six-for-36 (.166) at the plate during the last 10 games. When he gets a hit, Indiana has a record of 23-7. When he goes hit-less, the Hoosiers are 8-7 as a team.
“He’s been struggling and just trying to get a new guy in there to see if we can get some energy out of that position,” Lemonis said.
- Lemonis opted to replace Kaletha with freshman Sam Crail. After Crail walked to lead off the sixth inning, Matt Lloyd would follow up with a single to put runners on first and second with no outs.
Except, Crail took a wide turn around second base and was thrown out trying to get back to the bag for the first out of the inning. Catcher Ryan Fineman would later on single up the middle two batters later, that could have potentially scored Crail.
- Indiana had runners on second and third with one out in the bottom of the seventh After a lengthy at-bat, shortstop Jeremy Houston struck out and couldn’t put a ball in play to get the runners home.
Crail would follow Houston’s strikeout with a walk, but Lloyd would end up grounding out with the bases loaded to end the seventh.
- Indiana was gifted a leadoff base runner in the eighth inning after Gorski reached second base via an error from the Kentucky right fielder. Fineman tried to push him to third with a sac bunt, but instead popped up to the pitcher keeping Gorski at second base.
Gorski would end up stranded at third base after a ground out and fly out to end the inning.
Tuesday marked the fifth one-run loss for Indiana in their last eight losses. Executing in key situations is the difference between winning and losing.
“Besides that Saturday game at Minnesota, we’ve been in every game,” Lemonis said. “It’s a one-run, two-run game across the board, we’re just not taking care of business.”
Before this rough 10 game stretch for the Hoosiers, they were 7-2 in one-run games, now in the last 10 games they have a record of 1-5 in one-run games.
Although Indiana was down 4-0 early and battled back to make it close, Lemonis wants to see his team get back in the win column and stay there.
“We’ve played close ones all year long,” Lemonis said. “It’s time for us to push through the door and start playing good baseball.”