Indiana Daily Student

IU offense strikes early, Hoosiers win

Senior Dustin DeMuth bats during the baseball game against Miami of Ohio on Wednesday. The Hoosiers won 16-1.
Senior Dustin DeMuth bats during the baseball game against Miami of Ohio on Wednesday. The Hoosiers won 16-1.

It didn’t take long for IU Coach Tracy Smith to make his presence known again in Oxford, Ohio.

Minutes after a pre-game ceremony honoring him for accomplishments during his nine seasons at the helm of Miami of Ohio’s baseball program, Smith’s IU squad had put the game away.

“It was a nice little recognition of helping build their program,” Smith said. “I think that was the gist of it. It surprised me. I didn’t have any idea and I appreciate the gesture, but once the first pitch is made, it’s time to tee it up and square off.”

Three runs in the top of the first inning were more than enough for the Hoosiers, who excelled both at the plate and on the mound en route to a 16-1 victory against their coach’s former team.  

IU got all the offense it needed in the top of the first inning when, after recording five singles, the game’s first six batters scored junior second baseman Casey Rodrigue, junior catcher Kyle Schwarber and junior first baseman Sam Travis. The three-run first inning set the precedent for a slew of runs on an evening that saw season-high totals in both runs and hits for IU.

“I thought that was kind of key,” Smith said. “I was kind of shocked that we jumped out on them like that. It kind of put them on their heels a little and obviously they never recovered. It kind of set the tone.”

IU scored in every inning but two as 12 Hoosiers recorded a hit.  

Reigning Big Ten Player of the Week Brad Hartong continued his form at the plate, scoring twice and driving in two runs on two hits, but the evening’s greatest production came from an unlikely source in junior outfielder Tim O’Conner.

O’Conner, who entered the game batting just .171 with 9 RBI on the season, put together his best game in an IU uniform. He tallied four hits in four at-bats, driving in four runs and scoring another before being removed from the game in the seventh inning.

He agreed that Wednesday’s game was his best since coming to Bloomington.

“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “I was seeing the ball well, just felt good at the plate.”

Much of the Hoosiers’ outburst was made superfluous by a pitching performance that stifled the RedHawks’ offense.

Sophomore left-hander Sullivan Stadler started on the mound, pitching three innings of no-hit baseball to lead a five-man group of pitchers that didn’t allow a run until the ninth inning. Stadler, who received the win to push his season record to 2-1, allowed just two baserunners: one on an error by sophomore shortstop Brian Wilhite and one via a hit batter.

He was relieved by sophomore Evan Bell, freshman Thomas Belcher, freshman Kent Williams and sophomore Will Coursen-Carr. Throughout the night, the Hoosier pitching staff gave up just five hits, striking out 11 and walking just two RedHawks.

“I’m very impressed,” Smith said of his pitching staff. “They pitched aggressively in the strike zone and allowed guys to make plays behind them, which I’ve been saying all year, if you do that, you’ve got a chance to win. I like what I saw.”

The win leaves only one non-conference game on the schedule for IU, which has gone 14-10 outside of the Big Ten in 2014.

With his team winning 17 of its last 19 games, Smith said the Hoosiers will continue to push as the season winds down.

“I think if we take care of our own business, we’ll come out on the winning side more often than losing,” he said. “We’re going to focus on Indiana and just approach it one inning, one game at a time.”

He paused.

“One pitch at a time.”

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