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Sophomore outfielder Carter Mathison runs the bases during Indiana's win over Indiana State on March 21. (HN photo/Caleb Wood)
Sophomore outfielder Carter Mathison runs the bases during Indiana's win over Indiana State on March 21. (HN photo/Caleb Wood)

‘That’s just baseball’: Indiana bats fall asleep, Indiana State blanks Hoosiers 4-0

Indiana missed a great opportunity to improve its RPI ranking

Indiana hitters collected just two extra-base hits in a runless midweek effort against intrastate foe Indiana State, 4-0. The second of the two was a Brock Tibbitts double off the wall. He followed by getting thrown out at third on a grounder to the left side with no one on first and only one out in the inning. 

“I made the wrong read. That’s just baseball,” Tibbitts said after the game — a quote that’s eerily similar to how head coach Jeff Mercer described the game as a whole. 

“Baseball happens,” Mercer said. “And in the eighth (inning) we had a really good inning going and we lined into a double play. Baseball is baseball.” 

This was the second time this season these two teams have faced, with the Hoosiers picking up the 15-5 win just two weeks ago. Both teams have favorable rankings in the RPI coming into the day with Indiana at 24 and the Sycamores right behind at 25, meaning whoever came out on top would likely get a boost. 

And that was Indiana State.

Sophomore Brock Tibbitts comes off the field during Indiana's 15-1 win over Purdue Fort Wayne on March 8. (HN photo/Nicholas McCarry)

Unsurprisingly, Indiana went with another staff day on the mound, no different than every midweek matchup so far in the campaign. Ty Bothwell got his fourth start of the season. The lefty struggled early and couldn’t complete two innings of work while letting up four walks with a hit to go along with it. Fortunately for Indiana, no harm was caused as he was able to get out of the first on his own and have freshman righty Cooper Katskee relieve him in the second. 

The Sycamores would finally take the lead on a solo no-doubter in the third from Luis Hernandez off Katskee. The side was retired in the third after the home run but that proved to be all Indiana State needed. 

Connor Foley gave up one more run on a single in the sixth and Evan Whiteaker allowed a run in his third straight appearance with two coming home off a solo home run from Randal Diaz and a couple of base knocks. 

“He just has to get back to attacking people with his fastball,” Mercer said about the freshman Whiteaker. “He’s going through freshman stuff right now. He’s at that freshman wall a little bit and he’s gotten humbled like we all have.”

For Indiana State on the mound, it was a staff day as well, just with different arms than expected. The Sycamores only needed three different pitchers, with the two longer outings coming in relief from two of their top bullpen flamethrowers in Cameron Holycross and Jared Spencer. 

Holycross threw four and two thirds, allowing just three hits and a walk while Spencer saw three innings, giving up three hits and no walks. 

“We didn’t necessarily expect that but you never know,” Mercer said about seeing both Holycross and Spencer in a midweek game. “They're a great team with a great coach and we did things a little uncharacteristic of what we typically do.”

The Hoosiers fall to 20-9 on the year with just their second midweek loss and are back in action with a massive three-game set starting Friday against Iowa.

“The sun’s gonna come up tomorrow and it’s a new day,” Tibbits said. “We just have to get back to work and back to what we’ve done so far this year.”

Iowa was picked to finish top three in the Big Ten and has appeared in multiple top-25 rankings at this point in the season. Game one of the series will be Friday with a 6 p.m. first pitch.

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