After nearly squandering a three-run lead late against Kent State on Tuesday, freshman pitcher Brayden Risedorph came in and picked up his first save for the Hoosiers to keep Indiana perfect at home this season with a 4-3 win.
The Hoosiers are rolling at home
Indiana improved to 15-0 at Bart Kaufman with the win Tuesday night, the second-best record to start a season since 1985.
They got on the board in the first inning when Phillip Glasser scored on a sacrifice fly from Brock Tibbitts. After Kent State tied the game in the bottom of the first, the Hoosiers went up 2-1 in the second when Glasser drove in Hunter Jessee with a double down the left field line. In the fourth inning, Jessee scored again on an error and Tibbitts closed out the Hoosiers’ scoring in the seventh inning with an RBI single from Tyler Cerny.
“For us to be able to do what we’ve done at the homestand, I think builds a lot of confidence,” Indiana coach Jeff Mercer said. “Then, you’re going to have to go on the road and do it. We’ve got some road trips coming up and we’re going to have to take this show on the road and see if we can do it on another surface.”
The schedule allowed, and even planned, for some bumps while on the road. This gave the Hoosiers an opportunity to fine-tune a few areas in the comfort of their home field.
“The way that we’ve built the schedule, we’ve done what I hoped that we would do — which is come home after an early slight and get on a roll a little bit, make adjustments and improve and then leave feeling good,” Mercer said. “What happens next? I don’t know. But we’ve accomplished what we hoped to accomplish and leave here with some confidence.”
Phillip Glasser stays dominant
Glasser has made huge strides this season offensively and has earned his spot as the leadoff hitter in the lineup. Prior to Tuesday’s game, he was hitting .432 with 27 runs, 20 RBIs and two home runs.
On Tuesday, he continued to prove that he can sustain this level of play.
In five at-bats, he had three hits — including two doubles, a run and an RBI. Mercer talked about how he keeps the team accountable.
“I think it holds the standard and raises the standard for everybody else around you,” Mercer said. “When you have a great player and he’s stable and shows up every game, I think what it does is takes away and removes excuses for everybody else.”
And it has a similar effect on Glasser.
“Obviously you never want to be bored with success,” Glasser said. “What gives you success is what you stay with, so you want to stay humble and just go in and do the same thing day-to-day. We have a lot of hard workers on our team and I’m just doing the best I can to lead by example.”
New talent shines
Of the seven pitchers on the mound Tuesday night for Indiana, five were freshmen. This wasn’t an accident. Mercer knows the potential these first-year players have and wants to give them an opportunity to prove themselves.
“Those guys are talented,” Mercer said. “We’ve wanted to get those guys back out there especially after this weekend… Any freshman’s gonna need some guidance and he’s gonna have to get in the mud a little bit and screw up and get back up and go do it again. I was proud of them.”
The freshman position players have had success as well, with Cerny getting a hit and also driving in a run Tuesday night. While he didn’t have as impressive of a game with a walk and a strikeout in three at-bats, freshman Devin Taylor has proven himself this season hitting .404 with 17 runs and four home runs. He was named co-Big Ten Freshman of the Week this past week.
While COVID-19 has allowed for a lot of older players to stay at the college level, Indiana is home to a myriad of young talent.
The Hoosiers will go back on the road after an eight-game homestand to continue league play against 12-8 Penn State. The Nittany Lions were swept in their three-game series against Big Ten opponent Michigan, but were able to pick up a 16-8 win over Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.