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Indiana baseball drops third straight game in close contest against Evansville

Indiana junior Cooper Trinkle, who played his freshman season at the University of Evansville, stood at the plate with two outs in the ninth.

He eyed his former teammate Michael Parks, who stood on the mound ready to deliver the 1-1 pitch. Indiana trailed by just one run and was in desperate need of a spark to ignite its offense. Trinkle was tasked with giving his new team the lift it needed to stay in the game against his former squad.

Former Evansville Purple Ace Cooper Trinkle stands safely at third against Purdue. (Ross Abdellah/HN)

The first two Hoosiers batters of the inning couldn’t create anything, with junior Elijah Dunham and redshirt senior Jordan Fucci flying out for the first two outs of the inning.

Trinkle then stepped to the plate, and on the 1-1 pitch, grounded out to the second baseman to end the game.

Indiana baseball dropped its first midweek road game Tuesday against Evansville, 5-4.

The Purple Aces entered the matchup just 4-11, with their only wins coming via a three-game sweep of Butler and a 5-3 victory over UT Martin. Both of these common opponents are of interest to Indiana, as IU beat UT Martin 3-2 at the South Alabama tournament a couple weeks ago and will play Butler in a midweek matchup on March 24.

Entering the contest, Evansville native Dunham had been Indiana’s top producer on offense. The junior outfielder has posted a .440 average so far this season and has added nine RBIs and six doubles to his tally as well.

He was silenced in his homecoming, going 0-for-5 with two fly outs and three ground outs, one of which resulted in a double play.

Cole Barr had Indiana’s only extra base hit of the evening with a triple to right center that scored two in the fourth inning. Barr finished with two of Indiana’s three RBIs in the game. Grant Richardson was the only Hoosier to collect multiple hits on what was a disappointing night offensively for an Indiana team that put up 17 runs against rival Purdue less than a week ago.

Freshman John Modugno took the mound for the Hoosiers in Evansville, throwing three innings and giving up five hits and five earned runs. It wasn’t exactly the outing coach Jeff Mercer would have wanted, with the 6-foot-6 righty giving up four of his runs in the third inning.

Second-year IU head coach Jeff Mercer sent in another freshman, Nathan Stahl, to operate in the fourth and fifth. He fared better than his classmate, working four strikeouts and allowing only one hit against the seven batters he faced.

Braden Scott was charged with taking care of the next three innings. He too kept the Hoosiers in the game, striking out three in his three innings in which he allowed only one hit and no runs.

Indiana had a chance to tie the game in the top of the eighth. With Richardson up to bat, Drew Ashley running on first, and the speedy Jeremy Houston on second, Richardson hit a ground ball straight to the second baseman. In an attempt to break up the double play, Ashely slid into the shortstop, causing him to skyrocket his throw to first and allowing Houston to score from second. The Hoosiers would have tied the game in the top of the eighth with only one out and a runner on first before the second base umpire called Ashley and Richardson out because of an illegal side by Ashley.

Evansville’s upset brings Indiana’s record down to 8-6, as the Hoosiers stranded 11 runners in what is now its third loss in a row after dropping the second and third games of the series against the University of San Diego last weekend.

Indiana will return to action right away, taking on the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday in Bloomington. The Bearcats’ 7-7 record would indicate that they shouldn’t pose much of a threat to Indiana. However, Cincinnati has won seven of its past eight games, the lone loss coming against a 10-6 Kentucky team in Lexington. Prior to their recent stretch, the Bearcats were swept by No.12 Florida State in a somewhat competitive series in Tallahassee.

In fact, all seven of Cincinnati’s losses have come on the road, a good sign for an Indiana team that will look to bounce back at Bart Kaufman Field for a 4:05 p.m. first pitch that can be seen on BTN+.

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