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Junior Bobby Whalen celebrates during IU's win over Louisville on April 18. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)
Junior Bobby Whalen celebrates during IU's win over Louisville on April 18. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

Hoosiers continue midweek dominance, outlast Ball State 9-8

Midweek games have helped bolster the Hoosiers’ postseason resume

With a Devin Taylor double into the left field gap with Bobby Whalen on first, the Hoosiers once again found a way to score in the first inning of a game — something they’ve done in four of their last five en route to a 9-8 win over Ball State.

It’s not only first innings though. Run totals across the board have been up for Indiana during its eight-game win streak. IU has scored 78 runs in its past seven games and a big part of it has been Indiana’s ability to take advantage of opportunities and not leave men on base. These 78 runs have come on only 87 base hits and Tuesday it was nine runs on eight hits.

“We did a really good job with sac flies and being able to hit a ground ball in the middle of the infield and put the ball in play with two strikes and our two-out RBI numbers are comparatively higher than two-out RBIs allowed,” Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer said. “When your batting average is good but not incredible, and your home run and doubles production is fine but not off the charts, but your run production is so high, to me it speaks to their approach.”

Ben Seiler got the start for Indiana and ran into some trouble in his third and final inning of work, giving up four runs, three of them earned. The next four arms out of the bullpen would all give up at least a run and combine to throw the next four innings, giving up a total of four earned runs between Adrian Vega, Ty Bothwell and Gabe Levy. 

With a 9-8 lead going into the eighth inning, Mercer needed one last man to get the last six outs. The man he called was once again freshman flamethrower Connor Foley. After picking up the high-pressure save despite inheriting two runners on with no outs in a one-run game on Friday against Ohio, Foley was able to complete the two-inning save against Ball State, retiring the top six of the Cardinals’ lineup in order. 

“It was a little easier coming into a clean inning and I just had to stay with my confidence and attack with my pitches,” Foley said. “I knew it was all about staying ready, I just love it (save situations).”

It was three weeks ago on Tuesday, May 4, when Indiana got shutout at Indiana State in a midweek contest to split the season series with the Sycamores. That still proves to be one of only two Indiana midweek losses on the season. The other was at top-25 Kentucky.

These midweek games mean a little more than years past due to the state of the current Hoosier resumé. With Indiana in a great spot for an NCAA Tournament at-large bid and a chance at even hosting a regional, every game matters from here on out — even the non-conference contests.

“Every game has almost equal importance now,” Mercer said. “It’s different how you manage and navigate now that we’re in this position. I won’t lie to you, we have to go for it every day with pitching to the extent that we can.”

The Hoosiers are back in action with a massive three-game set at Bart Kaufman Field this weekend hosting Maryland. Indiana and the Terrapins currently hold the top two spots in the Big Ten standings.

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