IU returns home for a three-game, in-conference series Friday afternoon at Sembower Field with a new face in the bullpen.
Alex Zerman, an IU junior who began the 2010 season playing for the University’s club baseball team, joined the Hoosiers officially Monday before making his first appearance on the mound in Tuesday’s contest at Valparaiso.
As the Hoosiers (16-15, 2-4) take on the Iowa Hawkeyes (13-16, 3-3), with the first pitch scheduled for 3:05 p.m. Friday, IU coach Tracy Smith said Zerman’s mid-season addition — albeit a rare occurrence — was a necessity for his team’s bullpen.
“We’re asking kids to do things they were not brought here to do,” Smith said of his use of infielders and other players as pitchers this season. “Our feeling was that if we can find somebody on the club team that may not have the greatest stuff in the world, but will at least throw strikes, it will help us.”
Zerman’s work during the 11-2 win Tuesday at Valparaiso certainly did that job.
The righthander tossed two complete innings, giving up three hits and just one earned run in his Hoosier debut.
Smith was pleased with Zerman’s initial outing and plans to use him as needed, especially in mid-week games.
“His velocity was good, and he was down in the zone,” Smith said. “As he gets more comfortable, hopefully he can continue to do that.
“We’re not asking him to come in and win the Big Ten for us. We just want him to throw some strikes and give us a chance, and I think he can do that.”
Zerman felt it was a bit of a redemptive moment.
“It was exciting,” Zerman said. “But it was more like I felt like I was back to where I needed to be. I hoped I could play at this level like I did my freshman year, and I just wanted to get back to it.”
Zerman is no newcomer to baseball. Coming from Stevenson High School near Chicago, Zerman first attended and played baseball at Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., where he promptly threw only one no-hit inning before a season-ending arm injury.
“Then there was an assortment of stuff, a change of coach, and I went to and graduated from Illinois Central,” Zerman said. “After that, I transferred just because I liked the school.”
Zerman joined the club team in February before he realized better things might be possible.
“I started to throw a little bit, and my elbow felt pretty good,” Zerman said. “Then I heard that the team had some pitching trouble, so I got in contact with the coach and said ‘Let me throw a bullpen. Let me help you out.’”
Smith took Zerman up on the offer, and after being approved by the athletic compliance office, he joined the team Monday.
Zerman doesn’t have outlandish goals after joining the team. In fact, he was a
little impressed at his postgame meal for the trip home from
“My previous experience is that we had to split a pizza on the way back, but this time you got your own,” Zerman said with a laugh.
Zerman said he’s just looking to help in any way his new coach needs him to.
“Throw four innings? I’ll throw four innings. Throw one inning to shut down a game? I’ll do that,” he said. “I just want to help repeat a Big Ten championship. That would be amazing.”