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Hoosiers’ bats wake up, propel Indiana to victory over Auburn in opening series finale

The first win of the season came in explosive fashion

Indiana baseball came into Sunday's series finale against the Auburn Tigers looking to avoid being swept to open the season. A first-inning grand slam and a strong start from sophomore pitcher Luke Sinnard made sure the Hoosiers didn’t leave Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field empty handed.

After just five runs on nine hits through the first two games of the series, the Indiana offense displayed a much-needed sense of urgency early in the series finale. With the bases loaded and two outs in the inning, sophomore outfielder Carter Mathison turned on a 1-0 pitch and sent it into the Indiana bullpen in right field.

That chased the Tigers starter, true freshman Drew Nelson, from the game before he could record three outs. Fifth-year senior catcher Peter Serruto struck out to end the top half of the first inning, but the Hoosiers never looked back.

In the bottom half of the first inning, sophomore Luke Sinnard, who transferred from Western Kentucky, worked around a two-out double to record a scoreless first frame in his first start with the Hoosiers.

Indiana added to its lead in the innings to follow. In the second inning, sophomore infielder Josh Pyne drove in a run via a sacrifice fly. 

The Hoosiers drove in three runs on five hits in the third inning. Three straight two-out hits provided the scoring charge for Indiana. Fifth-year senior infielder Phillip Glasser and senior outfielder Hunter Jesse both ripped RBI base hits. Pyne capped off the inning with a double off the wall in left field to tack on another run. The Hoosiers took an 8-0 lead into the bottom half of the third inning. 

Sinnard worked a quick one-two-three inning in the bottom half of the third.

After the Hoosiers went down in order in the top half of the fourth inning, the Tigers were finally able to get to Sinnard in the bottom half of the fourth. Senior utilityman Bryson Ware hit a two-out single that scored freshman catcher Ike Irish for Auburn. 

Sinnard tossed another scoreless frame in the fifth, his last inning of work on the day. He allowed one run on five hits and struck out four in his Indiana debut.

After three straight scoreless innings from Auburn freshman Zach Crotchfelt, the Hoosier offense added to its lead in the top of the seventh inning. One-out singles from Serruto and sophomore infielder Evan Goforth forced Crotchfelt out of the game. A two-out, two-RBI double from Jesse cleared the bases and plated the Hoosiers ninth and 10th runs of the game. Jesse recorded four hits and reached base successfully in all five of his plate appearances in the series finale.

The Hoosiers weren’t done however. They loaded the bases against Auburn freshman Ryan Olson in the eighth inning and subsequently scored on a wild pitch to take an 11-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth.

Graduate student and outfielder Justin Kirby led off the bottom of the eighth with a long ball off of Indiana sophomore Ryan Kraft. That solo shot was the only run Kraft surrendered over three innings of work.

The Hoosiers went down quietly in the top half of the ninth inning before junior pitcher Seti Manase recorded the final three outs for Indiana on the mound in the bottom half of the inning. That clinched the 11-2 win for the Hoosiers.

Indiana scored 11 runs on 14 hits to avoid the series sweep in the three-game set. The Hoosiers came away from their first series of the season with a 2-1 record.

The Hoosiers are back in action at home on Tuesday when they take on Miami (Ohio) for their home opener.

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