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<p>Evan Whiteaker comes off the mound during Indiana&#x27;s loss to Purdue Fort Wayne on Feb. 27, 2024. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)</p>
Evan Whiteaker comes off the mound during Indiana's loss to Purdue Fort Wayne on Feb. 27, 2024. (HN photo/Kallan Graybill)

No. 20 Indiana falls to Purdue Fort Wayne in midweek matchup

The Hoosiers allowed five home runs in the loss.

It was a windy evening for college baseball in Bloomington, where Purdue Fort Wayne made the trip to face No. 20 Indiana in a Tuesday night duel. The Mastodons started the game 1-6 on the season before upsetting the ranked Hoosiers. Purdue Fort Wayne had never beaten Indiana in any of their previous games.

“I wasn't displeased I just thought we got off fastball timing, got in between and they never did," Indiana coach Jeff Mercer said after the loss.

He credited Purdue Fort Wayne for playing really good baseball.

Indiana starting pitcher Seth Benes had a 1-2-3 start to the game as he retired the top of Purdue Fort Wayne's lineup. Only working two innings before being replaced on the mound, Benes had a brief but solid outing. Freshman Ryan Rushing replaced Benes to make his first appearance for Indiana. However, it was not long into the third inning before Cooper Katskee came in for relief.

Katskee impressively handled the situation he was dealt. He entered the game with bases loaded and one out. Katskee immediately struck out two batters to end the inning.

In the top of the fourth inning, things started to click for Purdue Fort Wayne. Justin Osterhouse and Ben Higgins hit home runs to put the Mastodons ahead by two runs. Purdue Fort Wayne scored another run in the inning to take a 3-0 lead.

The Hoosiers relied on a few more arms from the bullpen before the coaching staff eventually called up Evan Whitaker in the sixth inning, hopeful he would have an answer against the Mastodons.

However, it was Osterhouse’s day. The freshman first baseman recorded four RBI in the game following his second home run. That put Purdue Fort Wayne ahead 8-0 in the sixth inning, leaving Indiana with little time left.

Joey Brenczewski singled for Indiana to bring in two runners as part of a sixth-inning rally that ended Indiana's scoring drought. Center fielder Morgan Colopy followed with a sac fly to bring in Nick Mitchell, cutting the deficit to 8-3.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Indiana designated hitter Carter Mathison hit a home run with two runners on base, cutting Purdue Fort Wayne's lead to 8-6. Josh Pyne, Devan Taylor and Brock Tibbits then loaded the bases, putting pressure on Purdue Fort Wayne pitcher Owen Willard. With both teams lined up at the fences in their dugouts, Tyler Cerney stepped up to the plate with the chance to tie the game or give Indiana the lead. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, Cerny went down swinging, ending the inning.

In the ninth inning, Higgins hit another home run, this time off of Jack Moffitt. It was Purdue Fort Wayne's fifth home run of the game and the second Mastodons player to hit two in the game. Indiana was unable to score in the bottom of the ninth, giving the Hoosiers their second loss of the season. 

Mercer said his pitching staff needs to “keep doing what they're doing," explaining the staff has things to clean up and execute better. However, he said he's not displeased with how they have worked this season.

After Indiana's three-game, weekend sweep against Baylor and Tuesday's home loss, the Hoosiers are 7-2 on the season.

This weekend, Indiana will travel to Frisco, Tex., for the Frisco Classic. Indiana is set to face No. 16 Alabama (8-0) on Friday, No. 25 Dallas Baptist (7-0) on Saturday and Arizona (4-3) on Sunday.

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