After taking two of three games in Ann Arbor against Michigan last weekend, Indiana Baseball will face national power and No. 9 ranked Louisville at home on Tuesday.
Indiana’s two wins over the current leaders of the Big Ten propelled them back into the national rankings at No. 25 to make for a big-time match-up with the Cardinals.
The Hoosiers only have four games to go in the regular season with Louisville Tuesday and their last conference series this weekend at home against Rutgers.
Indiana is balancing two goals as a win over Louisville would be a huge resume boost, but the Hoosiers are also prioritizing an opportunity for a Big Ten regular season title in the weekend games.
Nonetheless, these last four games are huge for the team and the direction the rest of the season will take.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what challenge Louisville will present.
Indiana Flavor in the Cardinals’ Roster
It should come as no surprise due to the school’s proximity, but Louisville has quite a Hoosier feel to their roster.
Of Louisville’s 38 players, nine of them are from Indiana. By comparison, the Cardinals’ roster has just as many players that hail from Kentucky as well.
The two teams, even if in different conferences, are very familiar with one another as they recruit a lot of the same kids.
Indiana’s previous head coach and current Mississippi State Head Coach, Chris Lemonis, was also a former Louisville assistant.
As expected from their No. 9 ranking in the country and their 40-12 record on the year, Louisville is an excellent hitting team.
As a club, the team batting average is .296 and the Cardinals have five guys who hit over a .300 mark.
The top bat for Louisville is junior Tyler Fitzgerald who hits in the No. 3 spot in the order. Fitzgerald is very dominant from the plate with a .340 batting average to lead the team. The junior has also put up 60 RBIs on the season with seven home runs and a .411 on-base percentage.
Alex Binelas has been a fantastic freshman for the Cardinals and owns the fifth spot in the order. Binelas bats for .326 batting average and has 25 of his 45 hits being extra base hits along with 41 RBIs on the season.
Sophomore Lucas Dunn is Louisville’s lead-off guy and has great plate discipline. Dunn has only struck out 21 times in 124 at-bats. He’s also taken more walks (22) than the number of times he has struck out. Dunn also hits for a .315 batting average and has 18 RBIs this season.
For the Hoosiers’ starting arm, it will pretty much be a homecoming game. Indiana will send freshman righthander, and practical Louisville native Gabe Bierman to start on the mound.
Bierman is a Jeffersonville, Indiana native and grew up very close to the University of Louisville. From Jeffersonville High School, Bierman’s alma mater, to the University, it’s less than a 20-minute drive.
Bierman has grown a lot throughout the course of the season and has an impressive stat line to show for it. Bierman has 37 strikeouts, a 3.75 ERA, and a 3-0 record in 15 appearances.
Louisville’s starter comes into the game with a very similar background and season stats.
Louisville will give an opportunity for their starting pitcher to have somewhat of a homecoming as well. The Cardinals will start righthanded freshman, Jack Perkins, who is a Kokomo, Indiana native.
Perkins will play in his home state after what has been a very solid first collegiate season. Perkins is 3-0 on the year with a 3.49 ERA and 31 strikeouts in 14 appearances.
It should certainly be a fun pitching duel both with the talent and the off-the-field connections on the mound. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday night and will be aired on ESPNU.