In three of IU’s last four mid-week games, there’s been one starting pitcher the Hoosiers have been able to lean on the most — sophomore Tim Herrin.
It was much of the same from IU Coach Chris Lemonis, who trotted out his latest mid-week arm Tuesday evening against in-state foe Ball State. Herrin pitched four strong innings and allowed three hits and one earned run and struck out four batters.
Freshman Cal Krueger surrendered a 1-run lead in the eighth inning, but sophomore designated hitter Matt Lloyd picked up the Hoosier staff and knocked an 11th-inning walk-off home run over the right field wall to notch IU’s first win in five games, 3-2.
“I thought he was good,” Lemonis said about Herrin. “It wasn’t as clean as I’d like, but we’ve been talking all year — he’s a work in progress. He’s going to be really, really good.”
Considering his start against Cincinnati was after relieving sophomore ace Jonathan Stiever on a scheduled one-inning outing for the ace, Herrin has started three mid-week games in the last three weeks and averages 4.1 innings pitched, three hits allowed and just more than one run scored per game.
Not only did he stay true to those numbers in his start Tuesday night, but the sophomore struck out his second-most batters in a start this season with four. He didn’t make many batters miss on swings. They just didn’t make solid contact.
He didn’t allow a home run, nor has he since Feb. 25 against Florida Atlantic. However, the sophomore’s walks are what Lemonis said he’d like to see Herrin reduce.
The starter walked three Cardinals on Tuesday. Two of those walks were leadoff batters that eventually made their way into scoring position, and the third advanced a runner into scoring position. None of them scored, but the jams increased Herrin’s pitch count, which has commonly forced Lemonis to turn to his bullpen earlier than he’d like when Herrin starts.
“He’s just figuring out how to put away hitters and how not to mess around sometimes,” Lemonis said. “I thought we pitched well all the way through tonight.”
Tuesday the Hoosiers were able to turn to their bullpen, an aspect of the team that has provided mixed results. Senior Luke Stephenson came in after Herrin to pitch three innings of one-hit ball, and the rest of the bullpen combined for four innings and allowed one hit and one earned run.
A week ago, IU was relying on its bats to keep up with offenses. Now, Lemonis said the key for the Hoosiers to keep the game close against the Cardinals was their pitching.
“We just pounded the strike zone for the most part,” Lemonis said. “We haven’t been swinging very well but we’ve been pitching it well lately. It’s been tough on us the last week, so it was nice to see the guys celebrate a little.”
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