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Baseball takes 6-game winning streak to San Diego


IU head coach Chris Lemonis monitors practice at Bart Kaufman Field. It was announced Monday that Lemonis will be the next head coach at Mississippi State.  Buy Photos

Few teams in college baseball are playing better than IU right now.

The Hoosiers have won their last six games, losing just once so far in the 2018 season.

However, the San Diego Toreros will also bring a six-game winning streak into this weekend’s four-game series against IU at Fowler Park on the University of San Diego campus.

The series begins Friday at 9 p.m., with a doubleheader to be played Saturday afternoon and evening before the final game Sunday.

Despite the win streak, IU has had disappointing performances from its starting pitchers during the first two weekends of the season. Aside from junior starter Pauly Milto, who was honored as the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week on Monday, IU has had to rely on its bullpen to produce.

Junior Jonathan Stiever, junior Tim Herrin and sophomore Andrew Saalfrank have all struggled in starting roles. In five combined starts, the pitchers have thrown for just 18.2 total innings, for an average ERA of 8.53.

IU Coach Chris Lemonis announced Stiever as the Friday starter and Milto as the Saturday starter before the season started. This weekend’s series will give at least two other pitchers, possibly Herrin and Saalfrank, the opportunity to impress. 

While the overall starting pitching hasn’t been effective, IU’s bullpen has been reliable.

In 18 combined appearances, IU’s bullpen has an ERA of just 0.575. Sophomore Cal Krueger has earned three wins in four appearances, making him one of only three pitchers nationally with three wins this season.

The Hoosier offense has produced timely hitting for Lemonis during the six-game win streak. IU has scored within the first two innings of each game this season, but these early leads have often not lasted.

This has required IU to pick up runs later in games, setting up the Hoosier bullpen to finish games out.

Junior utility player Matt Lloyd picked up five hits during last weekend’s 3-0 showing by IU at the Snowbird Baseball Classic in Florida. Junior infielder Luke Miller continued to be the main RBI threat for IU, though, and he now has 12 RBI.

Miller’s power has been evident so far, as he leads the team with four home runs.

IU’s win streak features one ranked win against then-No. 20 South Alabama during the season’s opening weekend. San Diego also defeated a ranked opponent during its streak, a 7-6 win against then-No. 3 Arkansas.

The Toreros have played all of their games so far this season in San Diego, and their only road game came against cross-city rival San Diego State.

Just like Milto for IU, San Diego players received conference honors earlier this week. Junior pitcher Paul Richan was named the Rawlings/West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week and freshman outfielder Tora Otsuka was the Rawlings/West Coast Conference Player of the Week after San Diego went 4-0 at the Tony Gwynn Legacy Tournament.

That 4-0 showing featured a 5-1 victory against Michigan on Feb. 23. 

The Wolverines were projected to finish fifth in the conference by the 2018 Big Ten Baseball Preseason Poll.

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