After his team’s 3-2 win against Minnesota last Saturday, junior catcher Josh Phegley said his biggest concern was a lack of early scoring in games.
His teammates responded against Cincinnati on Wednesday night, as the Hoosiers scored five runs in the first inning en route to a 16-4 victory. The win was IU’s third in a row and brings their season record to 10-15.
Sophomore pitcher Joey O’Gara (1-2) earned his first win of the year after giving up only one earned run in three innings.
“It was just one of those days where everything came together,” sophomore first baseman Jerrud Sabourin said after the game. “Their pitcher was having some problems throwing strikes, and we took advantage of that. We hit the ball all over the field during that first inning, so it’s a good sign.”
The first inning saw plenty of offensive firepower from the Hoosiers. Senior outfielder Chris Hervey scored the first run when freshman outfielder Alex Dickerson hit an RBI single into left field.
Junior shortstop Jake Dunning followed with an RBI single to center field to score Sabourin. Dickerson later scored after junior left fielder Michael Earley doubled down the left-field line. Dunning and Earley also scored later that inning.
Rogers gave his team a 6-4 lead when he hit his second home run of the year in the fourth inning.
The Hoosiers further extended their lead, scoring 10 more runs in the final three innings.
Hervey said the hitting-pitching combination made the victory one of the Hoosiers’ best of the still-young season.
“It has been a while since we have had a game like that,” he said. “(O’Gara) basically did it all. He came in, threw strikes and got ahead. We are now on a little roll going into a fairly important Big Ten weekend against a good Illinois team.”
With the Big Ten season now in full swing, the recent winning streak could not have come at a better time. The month of April features matchups with conference foes Illinois, Iowa, Penn State and Michigan.
After a tough stretch early in the season, IU coach Tracy Smith said the positive play this week has been monumental for his team’s morale.
“It helps get our confidence up where it needs to be,” Smith said. “Given we had a miserable spring break and just didn’t play well, you don’t want to go into the Big Ten doubting. I thought we played fairly well tonight and, hopefully, we will carry that momentum into the weekend against Illinois.”