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Baseball continues nonconference play in Florida


Junior infielder Luke Miller swings his bat during a game against Ball State on April 4, 2017. Miller was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday. Katelyn Rowe Buy Photos

After closing its first tournament of the season with three straight wins, the Hoosiers will continue nonconference play this weekend in Florida.

IU will play Rutgers, Boston College and Chicago State as part of the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Port Charlotte, Florida, to complete nonconference tournament play.

The Hoosiers went 3-1 at last weekend’s Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach tournament in South Carolina. IU dropped its opening game against Oklahoma, but followed with victories against Kansas State, South Alabama and Coastal Carolina.

Starting pitching was a trouble spot for IU in three of the four games. Junior Jonathan Stiever, sophomore Andrew Saalfrank and junior Tim Herrin all pitched five innings or fewer with an ERA of at least 9.00.

Only junior pitcher Pauly Milto made it to the sixth inning for IU in a starting role, which came in last Saturday’s 5-0 win against Kansas State.

However, the Hoosier bullpen picked up the slack for Coach Chris Lemonis. IU bullpen pitchers combined for 18 innings pitched and just three runs allowed.

Only one pitcher, sophomore Cal Krueger, made multiple appearances during the weekend. Krueger earned wins against South Alabama and Coastal Carolina.

The South Alabama win came courtesy of timely hitting from new junior leadoff hitter Logan Kaletha.

Kaletha’s walk-off grand slam gave IU an 8-4 win, and provided an exclamation point to a strong debut weekend from the Michigan City, Indiana, native. Kaletha went the junior college route out of high school, attending John A. Logan College in Carterville, Illinois, for three years before enrolling at IU.

He started all four games for the Hoosiers during opening weekend and leads the team with five runs scored.

“It’s something I’ve been working for since I went JuCo,” Kaletha said in a Twitter video posted by IU Athletics after the South Alabama game. “To get to this level and play with these guys, it’s awesome.”

Kaletha’s strong start to the season helped make up for disappointing showings at the plate by sophomore outfielder Matt Gorski and junior utility player Matt Lloyd.

Gorski collected just two hits in 11 at-bats, although he made no mistakes fielding the ball in left field, a position he switched back to during the offseason.

Lloyd is expected to contribute significantly to the IU offense, but went 1-16 during IU’s first four games. Lloyd’s woes contributed to IU hitting at just a .236 average as a team while in South Carolina, but the Hoosiers still scored more than five runs per game on average.

“You don’t really see us get down on ourselves,” Kaletha said. “Bad at-bat, we always got another one.”

Rutgers will be IU’s first opponent Friday afternoon, although the game will not count in the Big Ten Conference standings. The Scarlet Knights went 1-2 last weekend during a three-game set at then-No. 9 Miami.

Boston College went 2-1 at Santa Clara to begin its 2018 season and will play another Big Ten school, Minnesota, before facing IU on Saturday.

Chicago State will also enter the Snowbird Baseball Classic at 2-1 following a series victory against Long Island University-Brooklyn. The Cougars and Hoosiers will finish tournament play against one another on Sunday morning.

Stiever and Milto will likely remain the Friday and Saturday starters for IU, although Lemonis has not confirmed starters beyond those two players.

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