After dropping two of three on the road to the Texas Longhorns this past weekend, Indiana baseball returned home for a midweek matchup against Butler. On what was a beautiful Tuesday evening, without a cloud in the sky, the Hoosiers topped the Bulldogs 13-2.
Ty Bothwell got the start for Indiana against the in-state opponents. Bothwell struggled in his only other appearance this year, a Saturday start against Auburn. In that start, Bothwell failed to make it out of the third inning, surrendering two runs on three hits, while walking four batters.
Bothwell’s start didn’t last long in this one — only one inning — but it was a success, retiring three Butler hitters in order for a one-two-three inning.
“The plan was to staff it,” head coach Jeff Mercer said postgame. “We’ve got enough depth now that we have to get those guys ready for the weekend.”
The Hoosiers offense didn’t wait long to get going against Butler, scoring four runs in the bottom of the first.
Indiana began the inning with five consecutive hits, including four doubles. Sophomore infielder Josh Pyne got the scoring started for Indiana with a ground-rule double to left that scored two. Sophomore outfielder Carter Mathison and sophomore infielder Brock Tibbitts both added RBI doubles of their own, giving Indiana a 4-0 lead after one inning.
“I was just not worrying about the struggles I’ve been having lately,” Mathison said postgame. “Staying through the middle of the field and staying on the inside of the ball were the main things I focused on today.”
Junior Brooks Ey was the first man out of the Indiana bullpen on a night when nine different arms were used.
“It feels awesome,” Mathison said on getting an early lead for the pitching staff. “Anything we can do on the offensive side to help them out we try to do.”
In the top of the third, freshman Cooper Katskee took to the mound for the Hoosiers. After giving up a base hit, then hitting a batter, sophomore infielder Carter Dorighi doubled for Butler, giving them their first run of the game.
The Indiana offense continued to stay hot in the third, as the Hoosiers put up another four-spot in the inning.
A sacrifice fly from redshirt senior catcher Matthew Ellis allowed Mathison to tag up and score from third. Freshman outfielder Devin Taylor and fellow freshman, infielder Tyler Cerny, reached base consecutively and added two more runs to the Indiana tally. Fifth-year senior infielder Phillip Glasser then capped off the inning with an RBI double.
The Hoosiers took an 8-1 lead into the bottom of the fourth inning. After Mathison tripled to lead off the inning, Tibbitts singled up the middle to tack on another run for Indiana.
“It felt great,” Mathison said of his three extra-base hits. “I needed it.”
In the fifth inning, Pyne scorched an RBI double to left center field, his second double of the game. That gave the Hoosiers a 10-1 lead.
Indiana called upon freshman Brayden Risedorph for the top of the sixth. He allowed two hits and a run in his lone inning of work. Senior outfielder Kyle Van Liere beat out what would have been an inning-ending double-play, allowing the run to score for Butler and cutting the Hoosier lead to eight.
In the bottom of the sixth, Glasser scored on a passed ball, giving Indiana an 11-2 lead.
After a scoreless seventh inning, Indiana continued its offensive onslaught in the eighth. Senior outfielder Ethan Vecrumba drove in a run with a triple and then Tibbitts singled to score Vecrumba giving Indiana a 13-2 lead that would ultimately prove to be the difference.
The Hoosiers had it going at the plate all evening long, tallying 13 hits, including nine extra-base hits in the win.
“Once one guy gets a hit, we have to keep it rolling,” Mathison said. “Passing it onto the next guy is a big thing.”
After allowing seven runs in his first two appearances of the year, graduate student Gabe Levy tossed a scoreless inning and a third in the Indiana win.
“I have great confidence in Gabe,” Mercer said. “We’re working through some different stuff. His velo’s not quite where we would want it to be at, but he’ll find his footing.”
Multiple other relievers garnered praise from their head coach following the win. Redshirt senior Craig Yoho and freshman Connor Foley threw scoreless innings on Tuesday. Risedorph gave up his first run of the year, but has been solid throughout the early part of the season for Indiana.
“Yoho has really taken a major step forward, Foley was better with his offspeed stuff tonight and Risedorph was good,” Mercer said. “The ultimate goal is I’d like to have those guys on the backend.”
This weekend, the Hoosiers play in the Keith LeClair Classic spanning from Friday to Sunday down in Greenville, North Carolina. They’ll open it with a matchup against a top-25 opponent in East Carolina on Friday night. On Saturday and Sunday the Hoosiers take on Georgetown and Long Beach State, respectively.
With the win over the Bulldogs on Tuesday, the Hoosiers are now 4-4 to begin the year.