In dominant and consistent fashion, Indiana baseball swept Evansville in a four-game series this weekend.
Every game was easily won by the Hoosiers except for the final game of the series on Sunday, which went to 10 innings. Sunday’s game was won by virtue of a walk-off single from Sophomore Drew Ashley.
The scores of the series go as follows:
- Game 1 (Friday): W, 5-0
- Game 2 (Saturday): W, 5-1
- Game 3 (Saturday): W, 9-3
- Game 4 (Sunday): W, 6-5 (10 innings)
The series was unusual with Evansville playing host on Friday in game one with the rest of the three games being in Bloomington. Saturday was a doubleheader as well.
The Hoosiers are now winners of seven in a row and are playing some of their best baseball on the season. They own a 24-12 record and have moved up to No. 23 in the RPI ratings after entering the weekend at No. 31.
Now let’s take a closer look at the Evansville series with three takeaways from the four-game set with the Purple Aces.
Elite pitching from Indiana
What defined Indiana’s series this weekend was not the power hitting that Indiana has become accustomed to over the course of the season. Rather, it was excellent work from the mound.
“I was really proud of how tough we were all weekend,” Indiana Head Coach Jeff Mercer said on the pitching staff’s performance.
Other than an outlier in Sunday’s game where the Hoosiers allowed 12 hits, in the previous three games Indiana’s staff allowed a combined 12 hits. Additionally, Evansville averaged a little over two runs per game compared to their average of about five runs per contest. The starters of games one through three all shined with excellent outings.
Senior Pauly Milto went eight innings, only allowing three hits and no runs in a winning performance on Friday. Only six runners reached base on Milto for the game.
In the first Saturday game, junior Tanner Gordon was very dominant. Gordon gave up only two hits and one run in seven innings of work. He also struck out nine batters.
Junior Andrew Saalfrank had a career day in the second Saturday game. The junior went 7.2 innings and struck out a career high 14 batters. He gave up five hits and two earned runs as well.
Indiana’s pitching depth is as strong as ever with practically four starters with sophomore Tommy Sommer returning from injury. Mercer said that the sophomore will start the Ball State game on Tuesday.
Matt Lloyd stays hot
Senior utilityman Matt Lloyd has been on a tear as of late for Indiana, and the Evansville series was some of his best work on the season.
Over the weekend, Lloyd went seven for 13 from the plate and accounted five RBIs and two home runs. From the beginning of the weekend to the end of it, he improved his batting average from .297 to .320.
Even when Lloyd struggled, as he did from the mound on Sunday when he gave up two runs in the bottom of the ninth to allow Evansville to tie it, there was something special to it. Those were the first two earned runs Lloyd has allowed all season in 10 appearances.
“Matt Lloyd’s human,” Mercer said while laughing. “They (Evansville) hit some decent balls, but when you’re kind of a sinker-baller and they hit ground balls, sometimes they find holes.”
Drew Ashley plays hero ball
After losing control of Sunday’s game in the top of the ninth inning, when they allowed two runs from Evansville to tie it at five, Indiana had to go to the tenth to finish the job. The man to do it was Drew Ashley.
The rally started with sophomore Justin Walker hitting a double to left field. Sophomore Elijah Dunham reached first after being intentionally walked which was followed by a walk of senior Wyatt Cross.
Lead-off batter and sophomore Drew Ashley was brought up to bat with one out and the bases loaded. The Evansville native proceeded to hit a deep bomb to the left field wall which scored Walker and won the Hoosiers the game 6-5.
The walk-off single not only won them the game, but secured Indiana’s sweep of Evansville.
“All you’re trying to do is hit a flyball to the outfield there because Justin is going to do his job,” Ashley said. “He’s going to tag up and score there, so my job was not too difficult.”