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‘Tommy does everything right’: Sommer dominates in first start since March

Matt Gorski at-bat for the Hoosiers on a beautiful day. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Sophomore pitcher Tommy Sommer dominated Ball State to the tune of a 14-3 win over Ball State Tuesday night in his first start since March 3.

The lefthander was excellent from the mound. In six innings of work, Sommer allowed only four hits and one walk while striking out a career-high 10 batters on just 87 pitches. The third inning was a bit of a struggle when Sommer allowed two runs, but the sophomore was always in control.

Indiana Head Coach Jeff Mercer was proud of how his sophomore starter handled his first start back.

“He’s always composed, I love his competitiveness,” Mercer said. “How you do some things is how you do everything, and that’s why Tommy is excellent because Tommy does everything right.”

Sommer earned the win and continued Indiana’s hot streak as their win over Ball State marks the Hoosiers’ eighth consecutive victory and improves their record to 25-12. 

The sophomore’s last start came in the non-conference slate against Coastal Carolina where Sommer suffered a meniscus tear and held him from making another appearance until April 6 against Penn State.

Including the Ball State game, Sommer has made three appearances since the injury. Like Ball State, Sommer has been great in the relief outings.

Against Penn State he pitched two innings, only allowing one hit and one walk while striking out two. In relief against Purdue, Sommer went six innings where he struck out six and gave up just one hit.

With Sommer returning and being as dominant as he has been it boosts Indiana’s pitching depth tremendously. Now, Indiana has four starting caliber pitchers available. Pauly Milto has held the Friday starting spot well all season with Gordon, Saalfrank and Sommer all improving throughout the year.

“The starting pitching development was an expectation and it’s coming to fruition,” Mercer said.

Here are season stats of the four:

  • Milto: (5-3, 62 Ks, 1.98 ERA)
  • Gordon: (4-3, 57 Ks, 3.31 ERA)
  • Saalfrank: (4-1, 57 Ks, 2.61 ERA)
  • Sommer: (3-1, 25 Ks, 1.93 ERA)

Sommer originally held the Sunday starting spot before Saalfrank replaced him when Sommer went down with injury.

With Sommer throwing six innings in each of the last two midweek games, Indiana now can limit the number of arms used in the midweek games. Typically, the Hoosiers would throw four to five, sometimes more pitchers in these midweek games.

By having a midweek starter in Sommer, if the plan stays the same, it provides much needed rest and flexibility to Indiana’s bullpen moving forward.

“It’s the mid-relief that’s really going to be able to not cause us to tax those back-end guys (of the rotation),” Mercer said.

On the flip side of the game, Indiana also hit five home runs off the bats of Cole Barr, Matt Lloyd, Scotty Bradley, Matt Gorski and Sam Crail. Gorski’s was a grand slam that may not have landed yet. The Hoosiers are now up to 66 home runs as a team, best in the nation. Barr and Lloyd extend their Big-Ten-leading home-run totals to 13.

After playing nine straight home games the Hoosiers will finally hit the road again this weekend as they head to East Lansing to take on Michigan State for their next conference series. The Hoosiers and Cardinals will square off again next Tuesday at Victory Field in Indianapolis.

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