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Carter Mathison runs the bases during Indiana's loss to Evansville on April 16, 2024. (HN photo/Shrithik Karthik)
Carter Mathison runs the bases during Indiana's loss to Evansville on April 16, 2024. (HN photo/Shrithik Karthik)

Three takeaways from Indiana's midweek loss to Evansville

Timing at the plate and assertiveness on the mound were lacking in Tuesday's loss

The inability to connect offensively Tuesday night caused Indiana to suffer another midweek loss. 

The Hoosiers' struggles with timing and ability to capitalize on opportunity at the plate were the biggest contributors in the 5-4 loss to Evansville on Tuesday night. Here are a couple takeaways from what happened for Indiana.

Indiana’s timing was off at the plate

After scoring only four runs on Friday night, Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer was not pleased with the offensive efforts that came from his team. The Hoosiers out-hit Evansville 7-4 on Tuesday but fell victim to a lot of double plays and leaving many guys on base. 

Indiana tends to record a decent amount of walks in a game, however on Tuesday they were unable to put pressure on and extend their opponents pitch counts like they are used to doing and recorded just two walks total. 

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Josh Pyne tries to run out a grounder during Indiana's loss to Evansville on April 16, 2024. (HN photo/Shrithik Karthik)

After the game Mercer addressed the media about what had happened. There was a lot of stress on timing. He said his players just were not calculated right in terms of their timing and struggled with fastballs, the biggest issue that was talked about at the plate. This issue of timing and being in-between cost them a majority of their outs.

Mercer uses the phrase “stuff” a lot when describing his players abilities and that seemed to be what they lacked Tuesday: “stuff.” 

“There's no do-overs” is another message that Mercer relayed. He explained that they have to be prepared and execute better because if his players hesitate at the plate it hurts them. While things do happen and not every single moment can always be perfect because that's just the way the game goes, Mercer knows that his guys are very capable and can produce better results than what happened on Tuesday night if they just make the adjustments, show up stronger and attack harder.

Pitchers weren’t aggressive enough

Dealing with a veteran offense like Evansville is no easy task, but one that Indiana was able to mostly handle on Tuesday night. One of Mercer's goals for each game is simple: hold the opponents to six runs or less. The pitching staff was able to work together alongside defense as well to satisfy that goal. 

Indiana opted for seven arms throughout the game and while a couple of them may not have had their best stuff out on the mound a majority of the staff was able to keep up and try to be a lift for their team. 

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Starting pitcher Ethan Phillips waits for the ball during Indiana's loss to Evansville on April 16, 2024. (HN photo/Shrithik Karthik)

Combined the staff held the Purple Aces to six scoreless innings, except for the third, fourth and fifth innings where Evansville scored all five of its runs. The pitching staff walked eight batters, which Mercer said was due to the pitchers not having enough attack. It seems that when Indiana's staff attacks harder things go better and they can be potentially a challenging force. Mercer said he’s still happy with the pitching staff’s development from earlier in the year, though.

“With where we’ve come from, we’ve gotten so much better on the mound,” Mercer said. “I am thrilled with our progression.”

Indiana looks to regain focus going into the weekend

Where does Indiana go from here is a question that holds many answers for this ball club. The Tuesday performance summed up by Mercer was, “flat out not good enough.” 

The loss to Evansville marks the Hoosiers third midweek loss this year. Indiana prepared to have some challenging times in their difficult schedule this season and knows that loss is a part of playing the game. Mercer stressed a lot in the preseason about how in order to be a really strong program and up there with the other programs alike you have to keep putting yourself in hard situations and trying until you're not failing anymore but succeeding.

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Andrew Wiggins celebrates during Indiana's loss to Evansville on April 16, 2024. (HN photo/Shrithik Karthik)

In the early season it was clear that the situation on the mound and within the pitching staff held them back in quite a few scenarios. But they're starting to come out of that. While things happen and guys go through it, expect to see an intensified focus on the offensive side. Issues from Tuesday like timing errors and lack of attack have no room in Mercer's plans, something to look for a shift in going forward. 

Indiana travels to Minnesota this upcoming weekend for a three game Big Ten weekend series. The Golden Gophers go into this weekend 14-16 on the season against the Hoosiers who are 20-17. Minnesota also has yet to clinch a weekend series and currently sits in the conference’s bottom three just above Michigan State and Northwestern. Those games are set to take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Siebert Field.

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