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Garbacik Gradebook: Indiana Baseball’s dominates Purdue in home opener

Indiana baseball opened their home schedule Wednesday in what was a non-conference matchup with rival Purdue.

Last season, The Hoosiers captured a 7-6 win in their only contest against Purdue, with Cade Bunnell walking it off with an RBI single in the 10th inning. Including Wednesday’s game, the Hoosiers and the Boilermakers will meet four times this season.

Elijah Dunham sprints home as one of 17 Hoosier runs to score against Purdue. (Ross Abdellah/HN)

This year, no such extra inning magic was needed. In fact, the game ended early after Indiana and Purdue mutually agreed to a seventh inning mercy rule finish that saw Indiana capture a 17-2 victory.

Player Grades:

SP McCade Brown: C-

Brown started in Indiana’s lone matchup with Purdue last year as well, that contest did not go to plan. He exited after only facing five batters and without recording a single out, giving up four walks, a hit and two earned runs in the top of the first.

The sophomore faced adversity early again in this contest. After letting the second batter he faced off the hook by hitting him with a 3-2 count, Brown then also walked the next batter he faced, and hit the very next batter, loading the bases with only one out in the first.

Brown then walked another batter, giving Purdue a free run and forcing pitching coach Justin Parker to make a mound visit. Parker left Brown in the game and Brown responded by stopping the bleeding, striking out the next two batters in a row and leaving three runners stranded for Purdue.

Brown exited the game after the first for precautionary reasons with a sore arm, his final line included one run, off of no hits, two walks and two hit batters on 39 pitches.

DH, Drew Ashley: A

Ashley was one of the many Hoosiers with a productive day at the plate. He finished 2-for-2 with two RBIs, and also walked twice. He added a sacrifice fly in the second inning and legged out an infield single in the third.

CF, Grant Richardson: D-

Richardson’s day wasn’t very good, but Indiana didn’t need him to be. He finished with one hit that could have arguably been counted as an error, in five at-bats. The sophomore stranded five runners on a day where Indiana as a team only left eight total runners stranded. Ethan Vecrumba took over for Richardson in the field in the top of the 6th, finishing his day.

3B, Cole Barr: A-

Barr homered last season in Indiana’s only contest against Purdue and finished with two RBIs.

Today was an equally impressive outing for the third baseman, he went 3-for-4, and reached on a hit by pitch in the fourth inning. Barr’s only RBI was the last one for Indiana, with a single to right in the fifth inning that pushed the score to 17-1.

“Cole had a nice day, he’s a really good player.” Said Mercer, “He’s hit a lot of balls hard, kind of had some tough luck, it was good to see him finds some holes and get some hits.”

LF, Elijah Dunham: B+

Dunham, much like Ashley and Barr, had a solid day at the plate. He started out the game drawing a walk to load the bases, Jordan Fucci promptly hit him in with a double to deep left center. That would be the first of three runs that Dunham would go on to score.

Dunham didn’t record an RBI but moved runners into scoring position twice with singles in the fourth and fifth innings. Dunham’s average is now up to a team-best .488 after 10 games.

1B, Jordan Fucci: A+

Fucci was the big bat for the Hoosiers today, hitting in five RBIs on two hits while also scoring two runs in his five plate appearances.

Fucci’s day started out with his double to deep left center that scored Dunham, as well as two other Hoosiers to give Indiana its first lead in the ball game at 3-1 early in the first. The graduate transfer from Samford University hit a deep sacrifice fly to left in the fourth that drove in a run, and then picked up his fifth RBI in the fifth inning on a single to right field that put Indiana up 12-1.

“He hit well to the middle of the field and had a bunch of RBIs,” said head coach Jeff Mercer, “that first double that cleared the bases was a big one, really set the tone.”

C, Collin Hopkins: B+

Hopkins only recorded two officials at-bats but walked and was hit by a pitch in two other plate appearances. The senior catcher recorded an RBI and scored two runs before being pitch hit for by Jake Skrine in the bottom of the sixth.

The highlight of Hopkins day was a textbook strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play from his position behind the plate in the top of the third.

RF, Hunter Jessee: B

The freshman outfielder had another solid day at the plate, he went 2-for-5 and drove in a run, while also scoring two himself. His two outs were productive, hitting a hard-line drive that forced Purdue’s third baseman to make a tough grab in the third and a groundout in the fourth that moved two runners up into scoring position.

The freshman has shown he can be a consistent producer in the lineup, hitting at a .325 average early on in the season. With more performances like this, Jessee has quickly solidified himself as the Hoosier’s everyday third outfielder along with Richardson and Dunham.

2B, Cooper Trinkle: B

The junior went 1-for-4 from the plate today but drove in two runs. In the first inning, he broke the game open for the Hoosiers with a single into right that scored two runners and pushed the early lead to 5-1, from that point on it was all Indiana.

Trinkle was another Hoosier that found a way to be productive even in at-bats where he recorded outs, in the fifth inning, he grounded out to third, but advanced two runners into scoring position.

SS, Jeremy Houston: A

Houston rounded out the order with a productive day. The Chicago native attempted to lay down a sacrifice bunt in the first, but reached on what probably should have been scored as an error. Nonetheless, he drove in a run to push the lead to 6-1.

In the fourth Houston showed strong plate discipline, drawing a walk that garnered him another RBI. In the fifth, he hit an RBI single that scored another run and left runners on the corners and bringing the top of the order back up to bat.

He finished the day with three RBIs, the second most on the team behind Fucci, on two hits and a walk.

RHP, Cal Krueger: A-

Krueger came in early, taking over for Brown after the first inning. The senior made quick work of the Boilermakers in the second, after giving up a single, he quickly forced a Purdue batter to roll a ground ball to second base for a routine double play.

Krueger likewise kept the third inning quiet, and finished the day with three strikeouts, and gave up only two hits and no runs on 26 pitches. His only negative was hitting a batter in the third, but he quickly made up for it by striking out the next and getting out of the inning.

RHP, David Platt: A

The freshman impressed with two clean innings. After taking over for Krueger in the fourth, he retired three runners without allowing a hit.

In the fifth, Platt sat Purdue down 1-2-3 and completed his outing. He finished with two innings pitched, no hits and no runs and struck out two on 26 pitches.

Purdue will have a chance to write a much-needed new game plan when these two teams match up again in May, where they will play three conference games.

“I don’t know that I necessarily had expectations on what we would do as far as the outcome of games,” said Jeff Mercer, “but [this team] has meet and exceeded my expectation on the way that we would play the game. It’s a really tough group, it’s a resilient group, it’s a focused, disciplined group.”

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