IU baseball answered strongly to a 2-series skid that featured just one victory against Purdue. Minnesota visited Bloomington and left Bart Kaufman Field with a series loss last weekend.
In the series opener, it appeared that IU’s batting woes would continue against Big Ten-leading Minnesota. The Hoosiers lost 11-0 and only tallied two hits against Gophers’ ace Lucas Gilbreath.
However, IU responded with a flurry of offense in game two and turned 18 hits into 13 runs. IU was able to own Sunday’s rubber match in shutout fashion thanks to six innings of 3-hit ball from sophomore starter Pauly Milto.
With their second conference series victory behind them, the Hoosiers welcome the 22-12 Butler Bulldogs at 6:05 p.m. Wednesday, and the outcome of the mid-week matchup could hinge on who the Bulldogs start on the mound.
If Butler starts any three of its weekend rotation starters, IU could struggle to generate runs. None of the three pitchers have an earned run average worse than 3.27, while ace senior Jeff Shank boasts a 1.31 earned run average and a team-high 69 strikeouts.
Butler’s two usual mid-week pitchers, junior Garrett Christman and sophomore Quentin Miller, have 4.98 and 5.56 earned run averages, respectively.
The IU bats still find themselves spinning their wheels when it comes to scoring runs. IU tied Purdue in the series run totals, 22-22, and scored six fewer runs than Minnesota despite winning the last weekend series against the Gophers.
The run totals have seen their peaks and valleys, but the Hoosiers continue to hit home runs.
They started strong with the long ball and continue to lead the conference with 40 total home runs, including five against Minnesota from five different Hoosier batters.
IU Coach Chris Lemonis said before the series that he is happy with where the starting rotation currently is, but the regular mid-week starting pitcher sophomore Tim Herrin pitched the final three innings of the series finale Sunday.
While Lemonis said he does not know if Herrin will be prepared to pitch Wednesday, freshman Andrew Saalfrank, who has started six games this season, has not pitched since game one against Minnesota on Friday when he went 1.2 innings while allowing four hits and a run.
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