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Three takeaways from Indiana baseball’s opening series win over Memphis

The Indiana baseball dugout congratulates Matt Gorski during the 2018 season. (Mark Timko/HN)

Indiana Baseball got the 2019 season and Jeff Mercer era started with a three-game series win on the road at Memphis this past weekend.

After postponement of game one due to inclement weather Friday night, the teams played a double-header Saturday where they split. Indiana won game one, 6-1, and Memphis took the second game, 6-3. Then on Sunday, Indiana took the series with an easy 6-0 win over the Tigers.

Here are three takeaways from the Memphis series.

The Starting Pitching was Dominant

One of the biggest questions going into the season for Indiana was the starting pitching. Senior ace and Friday starter Pauly Milto was a sure bet, but there were two new weekend starters for Indiana in junior-college transfer and junior Tanner Gordon, and sophomore Tommy Sommer.

Any early concerns were put to bed after this series as the starting pitching was excellent. In the three-game series, the starting pitchers gave up one of a total seven runs surrendered on the series.

Milto was a force in game one. The senior went seven innings and allowed only two hits while striking out seven and surrendered no runs to get his first win on the season.

Gordon in his first appearance and start for Indiana ended up getting the loss but gave a strong effort. The right-hander gave up one run and three hits in four innings of work and struck out six.

Sommer got in the win column after going six innings and allowing five hits, but not letting the Tigers score to go along with four strikeouts.

Mercer is Still Figuring Out the Lineup

With it being his first year coaching this Indiana team, it’s to be expected that Mercer would take his time in finding his ideal lineup. Additionally, with this being the first series of the season, many changes are common.

Mercer experimented a little bit with the lineup throughout the series. Game one and game two’s lineups were noticeably different, while game three was nearly identical to game one’s lineup.

There were only five players who started and played the same position every game thus far: junior Matt Gorski in right field, senior Logan Kaletha in center field, senior Matt Lloyd at first base, sophomore Cole Barr at third base, and junior Jeremy Houston at shortstop.

Sophomore Justin Walker and senior Ryan Fineman both started games one and three at second base and catcher, respectively. Senior Cade Bunnell played second, and senior Wyatt Cross played catcher in game two where Walker and Fineman didn’t start.

Left field was a wildcard with a different player starting there in each game of the series. Sophomore Elijah Dunham played the spot in game one, sophomore Sam Crail took game two, and sophomore Drew Ashley had game three.

Top of the order delivered

Despite the various changes across the lineup, the top of the batting order was very consistent. Out of the total 15 runs scored in the series from Indiana, 12 of them came from RBI’s from guys who hit in the first four spots in the bating order.

The only three that didn’t come from the first four was from a three-run home run from Barr in the second game of the series.

The top four had three guys who hit in the same spot in every game with Gorski leading off, Kaletha hitting third, and Lloyd at clean-up. Walker held the two-spot for games one and three and Bunnell had the two-spot for game two.

Kaletha particularly stood out among the four, racking up four hits in eleven at-bats, with four RBI’s, and scoring a run himself.

Indiana will play their second series of the season on Friday when they will head to Knoxville to face Tennessee who is coming off a sweep of Appalachian State.

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