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IU baseball on verge of elimination after historic struggle at the plate



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Senior pitcher Kyle Hart, making his last start at Bart Kaufman Field, threw nine strikeouts and gave up only one run on Friday. Illinois broke a 1-run tie in the 11th inning, beating IU 2-1. Michael Williams Buy Photos

The Hoosiers looked lost at the plate Wednesday from start to finish.

From when Maryland starting pitcher Mike Shawaryn struck out the first six batters of the game to the right-hander retiring the last 12 batters of the game, the Hoosiers looked over matched.

This was all part of a 5-3 IU loss where the Hoosiers struck out 16 times.

Shawaryn pitched a complete game to give the Terrapins the win over IU.

“We’ve had a 10-day period where a lot of our at bats look like that,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “We’re fighting it a little bit offensively so hopefully we can come out together and put some good swings together and get it rolling.”

IU managed those three runs off of only four hits compared to Maryland’s 11.

IU scored one of those runs in the third without the help of a base hit before scoring its last two runs in the fifth inning thanks to an RBI double from sophomore second baseman Colby Stratten and a sac fly from sophomore outfielder Logan Sowers.

“There’s probably one, maybe two innings on a bad day when you’re going to have a chance to get to him,” senior starting pitcher Kyle Hart said. “I thought we did that in the fifth or the sixth when we put up a two-spot.”

Sowers has also not recorded a hit in his last 21 at-bats after Wednesday’s loss.

Hart labored through five innings, tied for his shortest start this season.

The left-hander started the day in trouble after allowing a run in the first, but was able to strand a second to escape. He stranded two more runners in the second, forcing freshman pitcher Jonathan Stiever to stop warming up in the bullpen.

Hart then had a stretch of nine straight batters retired before finding trouble once more in the fifth. He allowed four straight hits on his way to allowing three runs in what might prove to be his last inning pitching in an IU uniform.

“Personally I need to do a better job to make three runs stand up,” Hart said. “Especially against a Maryland lineup that I feel like I can out-match on nine out of 10 days.”

Hart said if he could, he would have thrown more cut fastballs to better keep Maryland’s right-handers off balance, which in turn would have made his changeup more effective.

But something he couldn’t change was his fastball, a pitch Hart said just wasn’t there for him Wednesday.

But Hart didn’t blame the 10 a.m. start for his struggles Wednesday, quickly pointing out his Maryland counterpart had no trouble on the mound.

Wednesday really exasperated IU’s recent struggles at the plate since it was facing a pitcher who Lemonis called one of the best in Big Ten history.

The Hoosiers don’t have much time to dwell about what went wrong against Shawaryn because come 10 a.m. Thursday they have an elimination game, not only for the Big Ten Tournament, but for their season.

If IU doesn’t find a remedy to its recent struggles at the plate, it won’t be in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four seasons.

“We can pitch and defend, we just need to start getting some hits and some timely hits,” Lemonis said. “We could match up tomorrow and play, but like I said it’s been a long 10 days of offense, and our guys have got to find a way to get that off their back and have some good at bats tomorrow.”

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