The Kentucky Wildcats defeated Indiana handedly Tuesday night by a score of 5-2 in Lexington.
This was the Hoosiers’ third loss in their last four games and brings their record to 31-17 overall.
It was an overall rough performance from Indiana that featured essentially no success from the plate and a number of miscues on defense from behind the plate too.
The game was also the first of a brutal five game stretch for the Hoosiers, who have the Big Ten leaders, Michigan, on the road for a weekend series, followed by a Tuesday home game with No. 14 Louisville.
Now let’s take a look at the details from IU’s loss to Kentucky with three takeaways.
The Bats Never Got Going
Much like the majority of the Illinois series last weekend for Indiana, the bats never showed up.
The Hoosiers recorded a total of five hits for the game and had no momentum from the plate.
It didn’t help that the team’s two most explosive hitters, junior Matt Gorski and senior Matt Lloyd went a combined 0-8 from the plate. Gorski struck out twice and Lloyd once.
When Gorski and Lloyd aren’t producing, it makes winning baseball games a lot tougher for the Hoosiers.
In the two losses of the Illinois series, Gorski was 2-8 and Lloyd was 0-8 from the plate. In those games, the Hoosiers as a team put up a combined six hits and one run.
Indiana is going to need those two to put up numbers if they want to win in the postseason, and the team’s weakness without Gorski and Lloyd’s best efforts showed against Kentucky.
Arguably, the biggest struggle against Kentucky Tuesday night was the lack of consistency from the catchers.
Reserve catcher and senior Wyatt Cross was given the start in what was supposed to be a day off for senior and starter Ryan Fineman.
The break for Fineman didn’t last long as Cross was pulled in the fifth inning. Cross struck out in both at-bats and also had a wild pitch get behind him in the first inning which gave Kentucky its first two runs and an early lead.
When inserted into the game, Fineman struggled just as much. The senior struck out in his only plate appearance and recorded an error in the fifth inning.
Fineman attempted to pickoff Kentucky senior Ryan Shinn at third, but a poor throw ended with the ball in left field, allowing Shinn to score easily.
Three of the five runs allowed by Indiana came on catching mistakes, an unusual occurrence for the Hoosiers.
SEC Caliber Opponent Should Help Team Grow
Indiana Baseball has had plenty of success playing a strong schedule this season and that has vaulted them as a fringe top 25 team who bounces around in the polls.
In the RPI, Indiana ranks No. 28 thanks to, not only their strong record, but great non-conference competition against teams like UConn, Coastal Carolina, Washington and Oregon State.
When the Hoosiers play SEC schools though, they struggle mightily. In addition to Tuesday’s match-up with Kentucky, Indiana got swept in their second series of the season at Tennessee.
The SEC is the consensus best conference in baseball, and it shows. Kentucky, a team with a .500 record at 24-24 stymied Indiana, the Big Ten’s No. 2 ranked team in the conference standings.
Kentucky’s record was purely misleading and Tuesday night displayed how talented the Wildcats really were. The Wildcats were also No. 42 in the RPI which also shows that they were a legitimate team.
On the bright side for the Hoosiers in all of this is that playing against SEC schools like Kentucky, is a great learning experience and will prepare them better for other tough match-ups down the road, like Michigan this weekend.
The opportunity for improvement following the loss is the only major positive for Indiana from last night. They will have to regroup quickly with the aforementioned Michigan series starting Friday followed by a home matchup with No. 14 Louisville next Tuesday.