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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)

Hoosiers bounce back, 'battle and fight and scrap' to complete sweep at Northwestern

After an ugly sweep at Maryland's hands, Indiana picked up three important conference victories

EVANSTON, Ill. — In the top of the 10th inning of the second game of Indiana's series against Northwestern, Brock Tibbitts knocked a double down the left field line with Devin Taylor at first. It was deep enough in the corner that the speedy Taylor should easily have had enough time to score, but baseball happens. Taylor tripped halfway between third and home and struggled to get up quickly before eventually getting tagged out at the plate in what would’ve given Indiana the go-ahead run and only third total run of the game.

The Hoosiers would still come out victorious in that game two, 5-2, after a 12-inning marathon. This play was a perfect representation of the weekend as a whole — a weekend where not everything went right for the Hoosiers, but they found a way to get it done.

“I’m just really proud of the way we continue to battle and fight and scrap,” head coach Jeff Mercer said. “We’re not going to hang our heads or slot our shoulders. This is what it’s going to be and this is the way it’s been all season.”

A weekend ago, Indiana got swept for the first time all season in a series against Maryland where none of the games were really close. The Hoosiers responded perfectly with a sweep of their own in Evanston, Illinois, over the struggling Northwestern Wildcats starting with a 4-0 shutout victory on Friday.

There were two clear stars of Friday’s game for Indiana, one at the plate and another on the mound. In the first inning, Carter Mathison started off the scoring with a three-run home run off Northwestern starter Michael Farinelli. The sophomore designated hitter recorded one more RBI in the eighth inning giving him a total of four on the day. Those four RBIs would be the only runs scored for Indiana’s offense in an overall lackluster night at the plate. 

Mathison was one of the stars. The other was the man on the mound for the Hoosiers, Luke Sinnard. Sinnard got his first Friday start of the season and immediately proved he belonged. He gave Indiana 6.2 innings of scoreless baseball, only giving up six hits and a few walks while picking up seven Ks. The sophomore righty combined with Craig Yoho to record just Indiana’s second shutout victory of the year.

“Stuff wins. Pitch ability wins,” Mercer said. “Sinnard had really good stuff and pitch ability today and put those two together, you got a really good chance to win. “

Indiana’s bats struggled once again for most of game two but unlike the series opener, IU didn’t get a six-inning scoreless start. Junior Seti Manase was on the mound making his 13th start of the year and the struggles began early for the righty. Despite only surrendering one run, Manase failed to make it out of the second inning, leaving the bases loaded for Ryan Kraft. The Hoosier defense started to settle in on the shoulders of Kraft who gave Indiana 7.1 innings of relief giving up no earned runs, the only run coming across on a Taylor error in right field. 

IU v.s Louisville Baseball-29.jpg
Freshman outfielder Devin Taylor puts a ball in play during IU's win over Louisville on April 18. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

Much like the pitching, it took some time for the offense to settle in. The Hoosier hitters were held scoreless through seven before a Taylor RBI double and Tibbitts run-scoring single in the eighth to tie the game at two. The game would find itself in the 12th inning before either team could break through but after Hunter Jessee led off the 12th with a double, the Hoosier bats came around. After a bunt single and a fielder’s choice, Hunter Jessee came around on a bad throw from Northwestern shortstop Owen McElfatrick. Taylor added some insurance with a 2-RBI double before two Indiana freshman arms in Connor Foley and Brayden Risdorph shut things down to clinch an Indiana series win.

"We struggled to score runs but we didn’t struggle as a lineup,” junior outfielder Bobby Whalen said. “We hit some balls really hard but they were just getting caught. Baseball’s a tough game so the message was just to keep doing everything right and eventually they’ll fall.”

Game three was a much different story. The Sunday finale was all about offense and saw 20 combined runs, more than Friday and Saturday put together. Indiana once again got it going early with a five-run first inning capped off by a Peter Serruto 2-RBI double. 

Brooks Ey got the nod for game three on the mound and was only able to record three outs. Giving up three runs in the first, Ey was pulled for freshman Ethan Phillips. Indiana added a total of six more runs in the fourth and seventh innings for the team’s first 11-run game since April 22 against Ohio. Foley, Ben Seiler and Risedorph combined to allow six themselves, good enough to hold off the Wildcats and complete the Hoosiers’ second Big Ten sweep of the season with an 11-9 win.

“After last weekend, I think we responded really well during practice,” senior Phillip Glasser said. “We went on the road this weekend competing and not worrying about the result or putting more pressure on ourselves, we were just going out there playing ball and putting together three really good games.”

Indiana improves to 34-14 on the year and 12-6 in Big Ten play and will play a midweek game in Cincinnati at Xavier on Wednesday and host the final home series of the year against Purdue next weekend.

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