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‘We’ll find a way to break through’: Indiana baseball struggles despite strong outing from Pauly Milto

Indiana baseball dropped the first game of its Penn State series, 3-0, at home on Friday night.

The loss drops their record to 17-12 and 5-2 in the Big Ten. This marks their second consecutive loss after getting drubbed by Wright State 15-4 on Wednesday.

The game was yet another example of Indiana’s struggles from the plate on Friday nights. The story stayed consistent compared to other Friday outings. Senior pitcher and Friday starter Pauly Milto pitched very well, but got little support from the bats.

“He pitched his butt off tonight,” Indiana Head Coach Jeff Mercer said. “He did a great job, (Penn State) just executed and got it done.”

Milto went six innings, only allowing six hits and one run while striking out eight. Indiana’s bats had nothing going for Milto though. The Hoosiers could only muster two hits with no runs scored. The hits only came early on in the game too. Senior Matt Lloyd had a double in the first inning while junior Scotty Bradley earned a single in the second.

It should be noted that Penn State’s starter from the mound tonight, sophomore Dante Biasi, is the one of the best arms the Hoosiers will face all year. Biasi boasts a 1.75 ERA and 66 strikeouts on the season. In addition to the two hits allowed, he struck out nine while walking one.

Mercer was more than impressed with Biasi’s talent and finds him unique compared to the other top tier pitchers Indiana has faced thus far this season.

“He’s the first true high RPM (revolutions per minute) fastball guy that we’ve faced all year,” Mercer said. “There’s not very many guys in the country that have the ability to spin the baseball the way that he does.”

The Hoosiers just couldn’t find any success from the plate today both against Biasi and Penn State’s sophomore closer Mason Mellott as the team struck out a total of 12 times. Indiana’s top of the lineup struggled immensely. The five guys in Indiana’s batting order struck out a combined nine times.

The Hoosiers have played seven Friday night games so far this season. When taking out the outlier: March 15 game against Canisius, Indiana has put up only 11 runs. An average of just 1.8 runs per Friday contest.

It was also the second straight Friday game where Indiana didn’t score a run after doing so against Maryland last week. In those same games where the hitting is so stagnant, Milto has been excellent and put the Hoosiers in great position for wins.

Milto has a 2.26 ERA and 58 strikeouts on the season, his record stands at 4-3, but with a little more run support, it would likely be much improved. He always has allowed the Hoosiers to be in position to win, yet the bats just haven’t always taken advantage.

Moving forward, Mercer is confident in his team and believes they’re resilient enough to bounce back this weekend and end their Friday night woes throughout the season.

“I do know this, we are talented offensively, we are prepared offensively, and those things (Friday struggles) will not continue to happen,” Mercer said. “We’ll find a way to break through.”

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