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Indiana players greet Tyler Cerny (8) at home plate after a home run during Indiana's win over Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)
Indiana players greet Tyler Cerny (8) at home plate after a home run during Indiana's win over Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

Inconsistencies continue as Indiana splits series with Butler

The Hoosiers looked like they were hitting their stride but fell short in the series finale

Following a huge team win against Middle Tennessee, Indiana baseball took a short drive to Indianapolis for a four game series against Butler, playing one game at Butler, followed by three games at home. Indiana split the series, again struggling with inconsistency on the mound and at the plate.

Game One

Ayden Decker Petty opened the game on the bump for Indiana. The sophomore pitcher blew up in the first inning, allowing three runs on three hits, including a two run home run, hit by Kade Lewis.

Indiana hitters found an early spark in the second inning, led by singles from Joey Brenczewski, Josh Pyne and Jasen Oliver. The offensive efforts weren’t enough, as Indiana failed to score any runs in the second inning, despite having three hits.

Butler continued to put up insurance runs, scoring three runs between the third and fifth innings after home runs from Jack Moroknek and Xavier Carter and a sacrifice fly RBI from Kade Lewis.

Offense for Indiana tried to fight back, putting up two runs over the fourth and fifth innings, but struggled, not hitting for more than a single the entire game. 

A combined eight strikeouts from Indiana batters plus lackluster defense and pitching allowed Butler to take the series opener, 6-2. 

Game Two

Following Thursday’s game in Indianapolis, the two teams traveled to Bloomington to play the remaining three games of the series.

Indiana, looking to rebound after a rough loss, slated graduate student Ty Bothwell to start on the mound. Bothwell threw himself a career game, lasting eight innings, striking out eight while walking none, only allowing two earned runs.

Bothwell’s incredible performance was supported by an excellent Indiana offense, having eight of nine starters get a hit. Indiana started swinging early, after Carter Mathison singled in the first inning. On the first pitch of his at-bat, Tyler Cerny doubled to left-center, bringing in Mathison to score. 

Ty Bothwell delivers a pitch during Indiana's win over Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

Indiana’s offense continued to back up Bothwell, scoring 10 runs between the fourth and sixth innings. This work was started by Pyne, who hit a sacrifice fly to drive in Nick Mitchell. Pyne set the stage, as Cerny and Devin Taylor hit back-to-back home runs the following inning. Indiana caught a groove in the sixth inning, when Mathison singled to left center, driving in Oliver and Brenczewski. Taylor continued his explosive day, with a double down the right field line, putting two more runs on the scoreboard. Indiana wasn’t done, as Brock Tibbitts hit one high and deep, out of the park, adding an additional two runs to Indiana’s huge inning. 

Butler’s Joey Urban had a crack at Bothwell, hitting a two-run blast, but it wasn’t enough, as no other Butler players could manage to bring in a run. 

Ryan Kraft closed out Indiana’s commanding lead, throwing the ninth inning, striking out two, while walking one. Indiana evened the series at one a piece, after winning game two 11-2. 

Game One of Saturday’s Doubleheader

With flamethrower Connor Foley starting on the bump, Bart Kaufman Stadium was full of anticipation. Foley opened up the first inning, striking out both Carter Dorighi and Jack Moroknek, with his fastball touching the high 90’s.

A common trend of Indiana’s offense being motivated by Foley’s pitching was in effect, after Indiana slashed five first-inning singles, from Cerny, Taylor, Tibbitts, Mitchell and Pyne. Andrew Wiggins, who broke his way into the starting lineup, contributed to the monster inning, slugging a home run to center field, 432 feet. Indiana collaboratively put up six first inning runs.

Wiggins had a spectacular game, going 4-for-4 at the plate, adding on three runs batted in. Indiana Head Coach Jeff Mercer agreed with the possibility of Wiggins seeing more playing time, even as a starter.

“Kudos to him and he was amazing today,” Mercer said about Wiggins starting in the near future. “He’s a great kid. He’s worked his tail off and it’s really exciting to see that kind of all come together for a guy like that.”

An early attempt to recover was made by Butler, after Kade Lewis pounded a ball over the center field fence, for a two run shot. Foley responded by correcting his mistake, striking out the side.

Indiana players celebrate during Indiana's win over Butler on March 29, 2024. (HN photo/Danielle Stockwell)

Indiana bats continued to shred the ball in the second inning. The bases got loaded after a Mathison single, Cerny hit by pitch, and a Tibbitts walk. Mitchell, one of the hottest hitters in the Big Ten, got his opportunity, unloading the bases with a grand slam, extending his hit streak to 12 games, later totaling six runs batted in on the game.

The hot offense continued for Indiana in the third inning. A triple from Oliver and a sky high home run off the scoreboard for Cerny fueled Indiana to a repeated four run inning.

Foley ended his performance during the sixth inning, throwing a total of 5.2 innings pitched, striking out nine, allowing three earned runs.

Mercer commented on Foley’s performance, explaining Foley has room for improvement, and needs to grow as a player.

“You know, he obviously has great stuff, but you know, he’s just got to go through it and grow up and learn how to manage himself and then the game was easier for him once he controls himself,” Mercer said.

Indiana totaled eight additional runs in the fifth and sixth innings, after home runs from Taylor and Oliver, Oliver’s third home run of the week.

A 22-run performance backed up by hits from nearly every starter pushed Indiana to a seven inning slaughter, 22-3, taking the series lead, at 2-1.

The Series Finale

With Indiana winning the two middle games of the series, it looked as if the team was taking a turn, having found an incredible rhythm with bats, and lockdown pitching. This would be incorrect.

An Indiana team that put up 22 runs in game three, only managed to pull off six hits in the series finale. 

A bright spot was in Oliver’s continued success, adding to his hit streak, now 11, totalling half of Indiana’s hits in the game.

Indiana bullpen pitching continued to disappoint, allowing seven earned runs over the last five innings of the game. 

Brayden Risedorph allowed the game-losing three run home run to Kade Lewis, his third of the series, raising Risedorph’s ERA to just under 10. Risedorph, was originally slotted as the No. 1 option in Indiana’s starting rotation, but has struggled immensely, falling out of the rotation, and now failing to compete in bullpen situations. Risedorph’s blown game drops his season record to 0-4.

A game that was in reach of winning for 90% of the game, was blown and misplayed, similar to a majority of games for the 15-14 Indiana Hoosiers. 

Indiana dropped the final game 8-5, splitting the series against Butler in a brutal fashion. Indiana will stay in Bloomington for a mid week matchup on Tuesday, hosting fellow state rival Indiana State, at 6 p.m.

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