Indiana Daily Student

Five things to expect before IU’s home-opener

<p>Then-sophomore infielder Matt Lloyd, now-junior, runs to third base after his teammate, Tony Butler, hit a grounder to left field during the 2017 season. Lloyd was named a second team All-American on Thursday.</p>

Then-sophomore infielder Matt Lloyd, now-junior, runs to third base after his teammate, Tony Butler, hit a grounder to left field during the 2017 season. Lloyd was named a second team All-American on Thursday.

Despite the most recent series against San Diego, IU fans have not been able to see the team in action. Most of what the fans know is based on radio broadcasts and box scores.

As IU welcomes Cincinnati for the first game March 6 at Bart Kaufman Field, here are five things to expect when seeing the Hoosiers live.

1. Scoring early and scoring often

The team is averaging more than six runs per game, but what might be more impressive is what the offense produces in the first third of the game. IU is averaging more than two runs per game in the first three innings.

Five regular starters have batting averages over .325. The strength on offense has come from the lineup as well. 

Sophomore utility player Matt Gorski, who often finds himself batting in the bottom third of the lineup, has produced a .341 batting average along with six runs batted in. 

The offensive firepower has also given IU Coach Chris Lemonis numerous opportunities to experiment with different players in the lineup. Sixteen different offensive players have started a game for IU this season.

2. Luxury at leadoff

Junior centerfielder Logan Kaletha may be the MVP for the team so far this season. After transferring from Joan A. Logan College, Kaletha has been the lead-off hitter for IU in every game. 

Thanks to Kaletha’s impeccable ability to get hit by a pitch — it has happened nine times this season — his on-base percentage is .500. While being able to reach base so often for IU, Kaletha leads the team in runs scored with 12.

Kaletha has been much more than a small-ball guy for IU, however. He has hit two home runs this season, highlighted by his walk-off grand slam against then-ranked No. 20 South Alabama. The centerfielder has also knocked in 12 RBIs thanks to the execution by the bottom of the lineup.

3. Power from the ‘pen

With the starting pitchers struggling for most of the early part of the season, the IU bullpen has come up big for the team. Of the nine games the Hoosiers have won this season, five have come with relievers being the pitcher of record. 

One notable arm from the bullpen has been sophomore Cal Krueger. Krueger is tied for the NCAA lead in wins with his 3-0 record. He also picked up a save for IU in a comeback victory against San Diego. 

Four IU relievers, including Krueger, with at least four innings pitched this season have an ERA of zero. If the early struggles from the starting pitching continues, Hoosier fans can expect to see a lot of different faces on the mound. 

4. The long ball

IU is in a tie for 21st in the national rankings for number of home runs hit. Of the 14 home runs the Hoosiers have hit this season, five have come from junior third baseman Luke Miller. 

Despite Miller owning most of those 14 long balls, five other Hoosiers have added to the total. The most impressive home run this season may have come from junior utility player Matt Lloyd who hit a 450-foot drive in the series finale against San Diego.

The usual clean-up hitter for IU, senior outfielder Logan Sowers, has picked up two home runs this season, while junior catcher Ryan Fineman picked up his only home run in a 10-4 victory against San Diego.

Home runs are usually a scarcity in cold weather, but as Bloomington gets warmer, IU fans can expect to see the ball popping off the Hoosier bats.

5. Win-Mil

Junior pitcher Pauly Milto has undoubtedly been the most consistent Hoosier on the mound this season. 

Despite a tough outing in his most recent start against San Diego, Milto has given the bullpen the rest it has needed for the other games in each series. 

In his first two starts of the season, Milto combined for 15 shutout innings. His best game came against Boston College in which he pitched a complete game shutout while tossing eight strikeouts. 

That performance against Boston College earned him his second win of the season and recognition as the Big Ten Pitcher of the Week.

The co-captain has been the Saturday starter for IU while junior Jonathan Stiever has been the Friday go-to guy. The third spot in the rotation has fluctuated throughout the year. 

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