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‘You could feel the energy was back;’ Indiana dominates the Gophers to win 7th-straight series

Gorski and Lloyd celebrate after a home run against Minnesota. (Josh Eastern/HN)

After being shut down by Minnesota’s Max Meyer on Friday, a series that carried important Big Ten ranking implications was in question for Indiana. The Hoosiers were outplayed for most of Saturday’s game, but a walk-off three-run home run forced a rubber match.

Indiana came out ready to play on Sunday, Head Coach Jeff Mercer said, and contributions from all over the field led a resilient squad to their seventh series win in a row.

“You could feel the energy was back,” Mercer said. “You could feel the confidence was back. We kind of got the monkey off our back.”

This has been a common theme for Indiana, as Sunday’s 7-1 win over Minnesota marks the third time this season the Hoosiers have come back from a Friday loss to win the series.

“From that point forward, you look at the ability to respond from that and recover from that,” Mercer said. “We have continued to show that we have that ability and we have to become that. That has to be our identity forevermore.”

Scotty Bradley knocked in two runners and led the way for an Indiana offense that didn’t need to rely on the home-run ball today. The Hoosiers lead the country with 72 home runs, but were able to find run production through base hits alone on Sunday.

“Today was obviously a nice blend of all things with us being able to string some things together and capitalizing on some of their mistakes as well,” Bradley said.

While Indiana has had an identity of hitting a lot of home runs this season, Bradley said this isn’t intentional.

“Home runs really do come by accident,” Bradley. “All we are trying to do is hit balls hard through the big part of the field and if they go, they go.”

The frequency with which Indiana hits home runs has also resulted in a lot of strikeouts. While Indiana leads the Big Ten and the nation in home runs, they also lead the conference in strikeouts, creating a “feast or famine” offense.

While the Hoosiers can tend to be home run or bust, Mercer isn’t worried about the strikeouts as long as they come in deep counts.

“The strikeouts, I am indifferent because the pitch count is more important and doing damage is more important,” Mercer said.

With such a deep offensive lineup, Mercer said that recently teams have been throwing off-speed pitches to try to keep Indiana hitters balance. The Hoosiers were able to hit off-speed pitches today, forcing Minnesota’s starter Joshua Culliver to exit before the first inning was over.

When Indiana is able to hit a someone’s secondary pitches, it forces the opposition to try something new. Today, Mercer said Indiana did a great job of throwing Minnesota pitchers off their game plan.

“If plan B was as good as plan A, it would be plan A,” Mercer said. “We made an adjustment in game and in this weekend and we got better and it proved to be the winning piece today.”

With today’s win, the Hoosiers sit a half game back from the Michigan Wolverines in the Big Ten Standings. Indiana will travel to Ann Arbor on May 10 for a three game series that could go a long way in deciding the Big Ten champion.

Heading down the home stretch of the Big Ten schedule, Mercer hopes the resiliency the Hoosiers shown today will carry on.

“As long as I am associated with this program, as long as they will have me, that has to be our identity for this year and moving forward and we can’t ever go back,” Mercer said.

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My name is Jack Ankony and I am a sophomore from Mount Prospect, Illinois. I am a huge Chicago sports fan who loves to write and talk about sports.

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