IU baseball has been consistent all season.
The team improved its record to 23-6 after a 6-1 victory against Indiana State on Tuesday night, but this game felt more different than recent ones.
For the first time in four games, IU had a zero in the error column.
“I didn’t think we were great tonight, but when you throw strikes and you don’t make any errors, it’s huge,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “The biggest area of improvement for us right now is defense, and we made some really nice plays tonight.”
Coming off a 13-inning victory against Purdue on Sunday, the Hoosiers changed up their starting lineup by putting freshman Justin Walker at second base and returning sophomore Jeremy Houston at shortstop.
Houston has committed the second-most errors on the team this season, while Walker has the third-most.
However, the duo came up big for IU against the Sycamores.
“When they’re playing good, it’s exciting,” Lemonis said. “It’s nice to have them out there.”
For Walker, the chemistry between the two stretches off the field as well.
“I love playing with Jeremy,” Walker said. “It’s really fun playing with him. Especially us two, we’re really close, so it’s cool playing with him.”
The middle infielders also came up big for IU on offense.
Walker went two-for-three, highlighted by what turned out to be the game-winning, two-RBI double in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and two outs.
“It was a three-two count, so I expected a fast ball because he didn’t want to walk me,” Walker said. “I was looking to get a fast ball and put it into the outfield and hopefully we could score some runs, and that’s what happened.”
After the Purdue series in which Walker started his first significant stretch of games at the collegiate level, he has seen his comfort and confidence grow on the field.
“In baseball, you’ve always got to have confidence,” Walker said. “That’s what I try to play with every day.”
Houston came into the game hitting just over .150 and had not started a game since the first game of the Butler series two weeks ago.
He started the game zero-for-three, but he picked up a two-RBI triple in the eighth for his first triple of the season.
“Hopefully it’ll give him a little confidence,” Lemonis said. “The game of baseball can beat you down a little bit, so I know it felt good for him to hit it in the gap.”
Junior Tim Herrin, a Terre Haute native, got his third start of the season on the mound.
Although freshman Tommy Sommer was the pitcher of record, Herrin delivered five innings of one-run ball, while striking out four batters.
“I didn’t think he had his best stuff, but he competed and found it after the first,” Lemonis said.
IU will now return to Big Ten play Friday when the Hoosiers begin a three-game series at home against Northwestern.