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IU earns series victory against Pacific



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Junior infielder Luke Miller takes a swing against Cincinnati on March 6 at Bart Kaufman Field. Miller hit two home runs Thursday night as IU beat Maryland, 6-5. Bobby Goddin Buy Photos

The ball IU junior utility player Matt Lloyd hit to Pacific junior infielder Kevin Sandri looked like each of the six other infield double-play balls IU had hit during its weekend series against Pacific.

It wasn't hit particularly hard, nor did it take an unexpected bounce, before reaching Pacific's second baseman during the eighth inning Sunday afternoon at Bart Kaufman Field.

However, unlike those prior double-play balls, this one wasn't fielded cleanly by the Tiger infield.

Sandri dropped the ball, allowing Lloyd to reach first base, as well as junior outfielder Logan Kaletha to advance to second base.

Senior outfielder Logan Sowers sent a double down the left-field line on the next pitch from Pacific senior Cooper Casad, scoring Sowers for the go-ahead run in IU's 4-2 victory Sunday.

The win gave IU, now 11-4 overall, a 2-1 series victory against Pacific, now 7-10 overall, after the Hoosiers lost Friday's game before rebounding with a win Saturday.

"The game plays you that way sometimes," IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. "It was a pretty stressful week."

IU's offense had its best showing of the weekend Sunday, posting eight hits.

However, runs were still hard to come by for the Hoosiers.

Sowers recorded three hits, all doubles, and three RBIs in Sunday's win, moving him into second place on the team in both categories with five doubles for the season and 18 total hits.

Sunday's performance came with Sowers hitting third in the batting order, as opposed to his usual spot hitting fourth. 

He had hit in the fourth sport for the entire season, until Saturday's game.

"I actually do like it," Sowers said about hitting third in the batting order. "Being able to hit with runners on base. It's always nice getting RBIs."

The Hoosiers left seven runners on base in Sunday's win, which continued a theme from the weekend of not being able to score runners.

"We haven't had a lot of offensive production this week, all week," Lemonis said.

For the third-straight game, though, IU limited Pacific to two runs or fewer.

Freshman pitcher Tommy Sommer recovered well after allowing an RBI double in the first inning. He struck out four batters in four innings pitched as part of his second collegiate start.

"That first inning was a little rocky, just threw a couple balls down the middle, I think," Lemonis said. "Once he got that out of him, he kind of got into a groove and pitched well. I thought we pitched well across the board."

The IU bullpen continued its strong start to 2018 in Sunday's win. Sophomore Cam Beauchamp, senior Brian Hobbie and sophomore Cal Krueger combined for five innings pitched while allowing just one run.

IU used a pair of left-handed pitchers, Sommer and Beauchamp, for the game's first 6.1 innings before Hobbie and Krueger pitched the rest of the way.

At the plate, the first double of the game by Sowers came in the third inning and scored a pair of runners, Lloyd and Kaletha. 

IU maintained its 2-1 lead until the sixth inning, when Pacific tied the game after IU junior infielder Luke Miller made an off-target throw to first base, which allowed a runner to score from third.

Miller was able to contribute with a run of his own on offense after Sowers gave IU the lead back in the eighth inning, as Miller hit a sacrifice fly to right field to score Sowers.

"He's got into a little cold spell," Lemonis said about Miller on offense. "I thought he swung it really well today. Had a couple of missiles and didn't get a lot to show for it."

Lemonis said he would continue to tinker with the IU batting order, as he tries to find the right balance between left-handed and right-handed hitters and their spots in the order.

His next opportunity to do so will come Tuesday afternoon when IU begins a two-game home series against Western Illinois. 

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