The IU baseball team faces an uphill battle this weekend when it travels to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the No. 13 Michigan Wolverines in a three-game series.
Michigan, 30-7 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten, enters the weekend as the hottest team in the conference because it has won each of its last five games.
On the other hand, the 19-15-2, 6-5-1 Hoosiers are coming off a 7-5 home loss to Butler. However, IU has won four of its last six games.
The Hoosiers received a boost in their RPI ranking all the way to the No. 33 slot after taking two of three games against Big-Ten leading Minnesota and were listed as one of the first four teams out in d1baseball.com’s NCAA Tournament field predictions. They saw a drop, though, to No. 40 after the loss to Butler. Minnesota is listed as a projected No. 3 seed.
Michigan appears all over numerous ranking reports after continuing to rack up wins. The Wolverines rank No. 13 in the d1baseball.com top 25, No. 15 in the National College Baseball Writers Association poll, No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches’ poll, and No. 24 in RPI. They are a projected No. 2 seed in the latest bracket prediction.
“This weekend is huge,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “Michigan is at the top of our league and is one of the best teams in the country. They’re a really good program, and I’m excited to see us play as we go up there and get ready to go.”
Michigan leads the Big Ten in all three main team statistics: batting average at .299, earned run average at 3.04 and fielding percentage at .984.
IU’s batting average is .261, its earned run average is 4.56, and its fielding percentage is .977. Those fall into a tie for ninth in the conference, seventh and fifth, respectively.
Among IU’s main contributors in its loss against Butler, numerous players head into the series with three-plus game hit streaks.
Freshman first baseman Matt Gorski went 1-3 with an RBI to extend his hit streak to four games, and senior center fielder Craig Dedelow’s lone hit in his five plate appearances was a double that scored two Hoosiers and lengthened his hitting streak to three games. Sophomore pitcher and designated hitter Matt Lloyd went 2-3 with an RBI to move his streak to three games, and sophomore third baseman Luke Miller went 1-5 with an RBI to push his streak to three games as well.
Michigan beat 20-13, 5-4 Michigan State on Tuesday night after sweeping No. 18 Oklahoma in three games last weekend.
Some of Michigan’s recent success may be attributed to the venue. The Wolverines have only played home games since March 28. After the three-game slate this weekend, Michigan will have played 17 consecutive games at home in Wilpon Complex. For the season, Michigan is 17-2 in Ann Arbor.
The first of the three games will start at 6 p.m. Friday.
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