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03/09/2018

Stiever's Career Day Not Enough In Loss

Indiana baseball junior starting pitcher Jonathan Stiever’s career game on the mound wasn’t enough for the Hoosiers Friday afternoon in the 2-1 loss against Pacific.

Stiever was lights out with career high 12 strikeouts over eight innings while allowing just one run, but his offense was cold at the plate. Indiana recorded a season low five hits for the second straight game Friday.

“We all wanted to win that game,” Stiever said. “It just sucks, kind of, because it wasn’t able to go our way, but tomorrow we have to come here early and Sunday too so we still have chances.”

Stiever walked the lead off man to start the game, which eventually came around to score on a RBI single. That was the lone blemish in his best start of the season on Friday.

“I was able to get ahead for the most part, besides the first inning really,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to pitch when you’re ahead in the count and be able to let the defense play behind you.”

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Stiever had allowed three or more runs in his first three appearances this spring and had an ERA above six entering Friday’s game. He said it had just been one or two pitches in key situations that he had been on the wrong side of prior to Friday, but against Pacific he had the strikeout pitch working.

Out of his 108 pitches on the day, he commanded the zone well throwing 82 for strikes and recording at least one strikeout in every inning.

“He’s got good stuff, but he also has great command, he’s real good commanding the zone,” IU head coach Chris Lemonis said. “He’s one of your better strike throwers out there, but I thought he had good stuff tonight too.”

With Stiever out of the game in the ninth inning, Indiana made two costly mistakes, one on the defensive side and the other on the offensive side.

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On defense, shortstop Jeremy Houston fielded a ground ball in the hole with two outs and two on in the top of the ninth. His throw to first was late but Indiana had a chance to get the lead runner at home still.

First baseman Elijah Dunham skipped his throw home and catcher Ryan Fineman was unable to make the play, giving Pacific the 2-1 lead.

The biggest mistake came on offense in the bottom of the ninth with one out when the potential tying run, pinch runner Justin Walker, was picked off at second base.

“It’s disappointing, from an offensive perspective we just haven’t shown up this week,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “We’ve been really good all year and now all of a sudden, not just hits but not execution either. Not getting a bunt down or getting picked off or getting a runner over is the difference from winning a game and John Stiever pitched his heart out.”

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Junior utility man Matt Lloyd was the offense for Indiana today, going four-for-four at the plate with three doubles and an RBI.

Outside of Lloyd, the rest of the Hoosier offense went 1-for-25 Friday night with five strikeouts while grounding into three double plays. Lemonis credited Pacific starting pitcher Shelby Lackey for working Indiana down with his two-seam fastball and sinker.

“I think we’ve hit into about six or seven double plays this week, but that’s our fault,” Lemonis said. “You have to know what they’re trying to do and make some things happen.”

Indiana will look to get its offense going once again and stop its two game skid Saturday afternoon behind Junior starting pitcher Pauly Milto, who leads all Indiana starting pitchers with a 2.75 ERA.


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