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IU baseball matches best start to season since 1987



MattLloyd

Junior utility player Matt Lloyd throws the ball to first base to get the out during the April 17 game against Notre Dame at Victory Field in Indianapolis. Lloyd hit a three-run home run in IU's win against Texas A&M on Sunday. Anna Tiplick Buy Photos

INDIANAPOLIS — IU Coach Chris Lemonis doesn’t pay attention to the numbers.

Whether it's where the Hoosiers sit in the national rankings or how many wins his team has recorded, Lemonis said there is too much going on for his team to enjoy its success right now.

However, IU’s 3-0 victory against Notre Dame on Tuesday night at Victory Field put the start to this IU baseball season among the best in program history.

IU’s 27-6 overall record matches the best 33-game mark for IU since 1987. It was a time when IU still played among the on-campus residence halls at Sembower Field and the Hoosiers only had one prior NCAA Tournament appearance.

“I wish we could enjoy it more,” Lemonis said. “Hopefully at the end of the year we can sit back and say, ‘Hey man, that was a great year,’ and enjoy it.”

Tuesday’s win marked the third time this season IU has put together a seven-game winning streak. A pair of juniors — catcher Ryan Fineman and starting pitcher Tim Herrin — worked in unison to earn the Hoosiers the win.

Herrin produced his longest appearance of the season, pitching six shutout innings while striking out six batters and allowing just one hit.

“Everything felt good today,” Herrin said. “I was able to fill up the zone. I was able to pitch off my fastball today. Had a lot of movement, so being able to throw that for a strike and then come back with a slider with different movement I think really helped me a lot today.” 

Offensively, Fineman continued his hot streak at the plate. His two-run home run onto the grass lawn beyond the left field wall in the sixth inning provided the game-deciding runs for IU.

It was his fifth home run of the season to go along with 28 RBIs and 37 hits. 

“I ran into a good fastball,” Fineman said about his home run. “I was missing them the whole night, so it was nice to finally hit one good.”

The last three weeks have seen Fineman perform well on offense. He’s collected a hit in 10 of IU’s last 12 games, with six of those being multi-hit performances.

But the victory against the Fighting Irish also showcased what has become a dominant pitching staff for IU.

The Hoosiers posted their sixth shutout of the season, thanks to Herrin’s strong start and effective bullpen pitching by senior B.J. Sabol and junior Matt Lloyd.

IU’s team ERA of 2.27 is now the best in the country. The Hoosiers are also the only team in the country to allow less than 80 earned runs this season.

Numbers like these may not matter to Lemonis, but IU’s steady pitching has kept the team in games this season, and the Hoosiers have ended up on the winning side more often than not.

“I just think we’re very consistent,” Lemonis said. “We get good starts, good relief pitching. I think the biggest piece right now is defense. We’re starting to really play defensively and not hurt ourselves that way, and our offense has a lot of different ways to win.”

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