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<p>(HN photo/Jared Rigdon)</p>
(HN photo/Jared Rigdon)

Indiana bats start slow as Hoosiers drop opening series 2-1 at Auburn

Everything came together in the third game of the weekend

The first two games saw just six combined runs from the Hoosiers, but the bats woke up in game three to avoid the sweep against 2022 College World Series participants Auburn.

A lot like the offense, the pitching was much more favorable for the Hoosiers in game three than the first two. Indiana went through eight combined pitchers in games one and two to contribute to 11 earned runs given up on back-to-back 8-4 and 6-1 losses. 

Game one starter was Siena transfer Ben Seiler. Seiler got hit early and often and was only able to see 16 batters without completing three innings of work. He went two and a third, giving up four runs, only of them three earned, on four hits and four walks, but he recorded five strikeouts. 

Auburn got on the board first in the first inning after Ike Irish drew a walk and would later come home on an error from Hoosiers shortstop Phillip Glasser. The next inning, Brock Tibbitts led off the inning with a single for Indiana and the Hoosiers would take the lead on a two-run home run from Matthew Ellis. 

But It was a strong bottom of the third that Auburn used to knock Seiler out of the game. They loaded the bases on a walk and a couple of hits and with only one out, Jeff Mercer went to the bullpen. 

It was graduate student Gabriel Levy who came in and couldn’t strand the three runners. Bryson Ware tied the game with a single and the Tigers took the lead on a fielder’s choice. 

Levy was able to get out of the third, allowing only three runs, but the struggles continued into the fourth and fifth for the righty, only lasting two and two thirds giving up two earned runs on seven hits. 

Adrian Vega relieved Levy and was one of the few bright spots of game one. He held Auburn scoreless through the final three and gave up no hits and two walks.

Indiana ended up grabbing two more runs in the fifth but it wasn’t enough and the Tigers took the season opener 8-4.

Game two was more of the same, with Auburn jumping on the board first via back-to-back two-run innings in the third and the fourth. Redshirt senior Ty Bothwell got the nod for Indiana and would also end up going just two and a third. 

The star of game two for the Tigers was junior starting pitcher Joseph Gonzales. Gonzales showed control and dominance through his five-inning scoreless start allowing just two hits and no walks while recording one strikeout. Indiana got its lone run in the seventh inning when freshman Devin Taylor singled home Tibbits, giving Taylor his first collegiate RBI. 

Auburn got two more in the sixth and held on for a 6-1 win to clinch the series victory. 

Indiana finally got a strong start in game three from Western Kentucky transfer Luke Sinnard. Sinnard went five innings, giving up only one earned run on five hits, one walk and recorded four strikeouts in the process.

The bats also woke up in game three for the Hoosiers, plating eight in the first three innings. Half of those were thanks to a first-inning grand slam from sophomore Carter Mathison, which knocked Auburn starter Drew Nelson out before he could record a third out. Indiana found three more runs later in the game to secure an 11-2 victory, the team’s first win of the season and Mercer’s 100th career win as the Indiana head coach. 

Indiana will play four games this upcoming week with their home opener on Tuesday against Miami (Ohio) and another trip down south for a three-game series with Texas.

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