As midweek games start to become more frequent, Indiana Head Coach Jeff Mercer gets the opportunity to try out some new arms on the mound. Mercer seems set on a weekend rotation of Gabe Bierman, Tommy Sommer and Braydon Tucker, but more midweek games means more fresh faces taking the ball for the Hoosiers.
David Platt took the mound for Indiana today and kept the Cincinnati Bearcat lineup tame for the majority of his outing. A big day from Grant Richardson at the plate propelled Indiana to a 6-2 victory to move Indiana to a 9-6 record overall. Let’s break down the major storylines from the Hoosiers’ win.
Solid outing by Platt in first career start
For today’s matchup with Cincinnati, that fresh face was Platt. Platt is a 6’3, 210 pound freshman from Quakertown, Pennsylvania, who has appeared five times out of the bullpen this year. Until his 1.1 inning, three-earned run relief appearance on March 7 versus San Diego, Platt had been one of the more reliable bullpen arms for Indiana. In his other four appearances, Platt pitched a combined 6.1 innings and gave up just one earned run on four hits.
But today was his chance to show Mercer what he can do in a slightly different role. Platt’s final line versus Cincinnati was five innings, eight hits, two earned runs, one walk and four strikeouts. The two runs Cincinnati scored off Platt came with either zero or one out, which shows that Platt did a nice job of limiting the damage and finishing innings strong.
Moving forward, Platt has proven to Mercer that he belongs in the Indiana rotation, whether it be out of the bullpen or starting midweek games.
Richardson continues hot streak
In the team’s opening series versus LSU, Richardson made it known that he was ready to have a big season. He was named the Big Ten Player of the Week in the first week of the year, and hasn’t stopped since.
Richardson was Indiana’s main source of offense against Cincinnati. In the bottom of the third inning, Richardson hit his fifth home run of the season to give the Hoosiers a 3-1 lead. Richardson stayed hot in the fifth inning with a double to center field to plate Drew Ashley. Indiana’s offense only managed four hits in this game, but was able to rely on clutch at bats from Richardson.
The Hoosiers have struggled throughout the early part of this season with situational hitting and leaving runners on base, but today Richardson provided a blueprint on how to knock in runners. Both of Richardson’s RBI hits came with two outs, showcasing his ability to perform in the clutch.
With his 3-for-4 day at the plate, Richardson increases his batting average to .424 on the season, which is a team-high. The centerfielder also leads Indiana with 22 runs scored, 25 hits, 17 RBIs and five home runs. Richardson was also 2-for-5 in Indiana’s 5-4 loss to Evansville on March 10, which means a solid weekend series versus Memphis could result in another Big Ten Player of the Week award.
Bullpen seals the deal
After scoreless performances from Matt Litwicki and Connor Manous, the Indiana bullpen will be well-rested in advance of a weekend series versus Memphis starting on March 13 in Bloomington. Litwicki was Mercer’s first choice out of the bullpen today versus Cincinnati and threw three scoreless innings, striking out one batter and giving up three hits.
Indiana’s pitching staff struck out just five batters today, which put more pressure on the Indiana defense. The Hoosiers committed two errors today, which continues to be an issue though it did not end up affecting the outcome against the Bearcats.
Following Litwicki’s performance, Connor Manous slammed the door in the ninth inning, not giving up any hits or walks. The strong performance from the Hoosier bullpen was a welcomed sign after getting roughed up in final two games of the San Diego series last weekend.
Moving forward, the Hoosiers welcome the Memphis Tigers to town this weekend for a three game series. Indiana went 1-1 in its two midweek games this week, but should be at full strength against Memphis. Each of the three upcoming games this weekend can be see on BTN+.