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Indiana baseball series preview: Evansville

Matt Lloyd plays first base during Indiana’s series win over Penn State. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Coming off a wild walk-off win in ten innings over rival Purdue 7-6 on Wednesday, Indiana baseball will get back to work this weekend for a four-game series against another in-state foe, Evansville.

The set-up of the series is a little unorthodox as Friday’s game will be played at Evansville while Saturday and Sunday’s games are in Bloomington. Saturday will also be a doubleheader.

The series will also be a change of pace as it gives the Hoosiers a break from Big Ten play and will be Indiana’s last non-conference series of the season.

Indiana (20-12) enters the series as winners of their last three with two wins over Penn State from last weekend and Wednesday’s Purdue win.

Evansville (17-11) has had a good year as well but is in a bit of a rough patch after losing two in a row. They lost to Dallas Baptist last Sunday and got thrashed by Austin Peay 10-2 on Tuesday.

Now let’s take a dive into what this in-state match-up has to offer.

Can’t overlook the Purple Aces

Despite being from a mid-major conference and a smaller school, Evansville isn’t a cupcake by any means and shouldn’t be overlooked by the Hoosiers.

They have more to their resume than their strong record. In a series with another Big Ten opponent, Iowa, Evansville won two of those three games. They also have a win over ACC opponent Boston College and fell one run short against national power and the No. 7 ranked team in the country, Vanderbilt.

In the RPI rankings Indiana and Evansville are very close as well. Indiana is ranked No. 31 and Evansville is No. 35. This would be a good win for Indiana’s resume despite the Purple Aces being a Missouri Valley Conference squad.

Additionally, Indiana since Big Ten play has played down to teams outside of their conference like Kent State and Wright State. It’ll be interesting to see if they buck the trend in this series.

Hitting

Evansville’s bats aren’t anything eye-popping, but they’re certainly not bad either.

As a team, the Purple Aces hit for a .245 batting average, good for fifth in the Missouri Valley Conference. Hitting for power isn’t a particular strength either as they only have 17. Good enough for second worst in the conference.

They have four bats who are hitting at a .260 batting average with one over .300.

Senior outfielder Nate Reeder is their top bat and hits in the three-spot. Reeder owns a .324 batting average with 22 RBIs with 8 extra base hits, including three home runs.

Freshman second baseman Danny Borgstrom has established himself early as one of Evansville’s top guys as he hits in the five-spot and has the second-best batting average on the team at .297.

Pitching

Evansville’s pitching, like their hitting, is middle of the pack in the Missouri Valley Conference as they place fourth with an average team ERA of 4.17.

The Purple Aces weekend rotation is as follows:

  • Friday: Junior, Adam Lukas
  • Saturday: Junior, Nathan Croner
  • Sunday: Senior, Alex Weigand

Lukas has somewhat struggled thus far this season. Being a Friday starter and having a 4.57 ERA is not typical but Lukas has a 1.30 WHIP, a 4-2 record, and 52 strikeouts which is third best in the conference.

Croner is a great supplementary arm to Lukas and has been arguably more successful this year. Croner owns a 3.38 ERA with 40 strikeouts, a 1.25 WHIP, and a 5-2 record.

Weigand has struggled compared to the other weekend starters. The senior has a 5.93 ERA with a 2-3 record, a 1.96 WHIP, and 27 strikeouts on the season.

It should be interesting to see what each team does for the fourth game of the series. It is possible that they treat it as a midweek game and use a good number of pitchers like they typically do or expend one arm as a main starter that might typically be a midweek guy.

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