Indiana Daily Student

Arnett’s 10th strikeout cements IU’s 3-2 win against No. 25 Minnesota

Sophomore catcher Dylan Swift watches during practice Thursday afternoon at Sembower Field. The Hoosiers face Chicago State Tuesday at 3 p.m. at home
Sophomore catcher Dylan Swift watches during practice Thursday afternoon at Sembower Field. The Hoosiers face Chicago State Tuesday at 3 p.m. at home

Eric Arnett lunged from a soggy mound, sending every inch of his slender, 6-foot-5 frame flailing toward the wet grass in his last heave of Saturday’s 3-2 win against No. 25 Minnesota.

With a full ball-to-strike count, he was only one pitch away from finishing a complete game and propelling IU (8-15, 1-1) to its first win against a ranked opponent this season.

The “payoff pitch” went Arnett’s way. Minnesota left fielder Justin Gominsky struck out swinging to end the game. IU was 1-1 in the three-game series, but Sunday’s game was canceled due to poor field conditions.

Minnesota (14-7, 1-1) left IU suspended in similar fashion in its 12-5 win Friday. The Hoosiers had lingering questions regarding their ever-changing infield and pitching staff, as freshman Blake Monar (2-2) allowed 10 hits, walked five batters and surrendered seven earned runs. He was helped by a number of fielding miscues in the fourth inning, when IU gave up six runs and tallied an error.

After Friday’s defeat, junior catcher Josh Phegley said IU’s mistake-filled fourth inning personified IU’s uncanny season in a nutshell.

“I feel like something strange happens every game,” he said. “It’s hard to fight through when almost every game seems like you’re fighting more than the other team.”

Freshman designated hitter Alex Dickerson supplied Arnett with the run support Monar lacked in IU’s game 1 loss. He was 2-for-3 in the game, with two RBI and a home run.

The left-hander took advantage of westward prevailing winds and hit an opposite-field, two-run homer in the sixth inning. Second baseman Derek McCallum, who also hits left-handed, had already crushed a home run to left field in the first inning.

IU coach Tracy Smith played prophet from the sidelines as Dickerson came up to bat.

“I had just said to one of the guys in the dugout, ‘He’s going to muscle one out of here today’ – which he did,” Smith said. “We needed something positive to happen to get on a roll here and start playing the way we’re supposed to be.”

While Alexander gave IU its 3-2 lead, Arnett and the defense kept it. The Hoosiers have seen many changes in the infield because of injury and struggled to consistently finish routine outs on Friday. Juniors Evan Crawford and Jake Dunning were moved to the outfield and shortstop Saturday, helping IU turn double plays and run down nearly unplayable hits.

IU displayed its improvement in the third inning of game two. Arnett was in a jam with the bases loaded and the Hoosiers got out of the inning. Rather than faltering like they did in Friday’s fourth inning, IU rallied and only allowed one run. Minnesota never scored again.

After a slight third-inning stall, Arnett got in a rhythm and exercised a commanding fast ball and off-speed pitch. The pitcher threw 10 strikeouts and consistently retired Minnesota’s 1-2-3 batters. Dickerson said Arnett carried the Hoosiers throughout the extremely contentious game.

“Key all the way through was Eric Arnett – just dealing,” he said. “The runs he did give up weren’t even half his fault. The entire game he never let down and keep pounding it down their throat.”

Although it was only one win, Smith hopes IU’s 3-2 defeat of Minnesota will provide a wake-up call for a team that was once highly touted.

“Minnesota’s going to be sitting up there at the top of those standings,” Smith said. “You got to beat good teams in close baseball games. Hopefully, this will be a jump start to us realizing we are good.”

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