Indiana Daily Student

IU baseball loses midweek contest at Purdue

<p>Junior utility player Matt Lloyd strikes out against Purdue on April 25. Lloyd scored IU's lone run in Friday's 4-1 loss at Minnesota.</p>

Junior utility player Matt Lloyd strikes out against Purdue on April 25. Lloyd scored IU's lone run in Friday's 4-1 loss at Minnesota.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana — Second baseman Matt Lloyd gripped his batting helmet with both hands and stared into the distance.

With IU trailing Purdue 4-2 in the top of the sixth inning Wednesday night at Alexander Field, the Hoosiers loaded the bases with no outs.

Lloyd stepped up to the plate, and made contact on the second pitch he faced from Purdue junior starting pitcher Ryan Beard. However, the junior barely made it out of the batter’s box before his hard-hit line drive was caught by freshman second baseman Tyler Powers and flipped to senior shortstop Harry Shipley for a double play.

It was a play that summarized IU’s 5-3 nonconference loss to Purdue. The loss condemned the Hoosiers to their first three-game losing streak since April 2017.

“We’re kind of beating ourselves a little bit,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “We’re walking guys at the wrong time and not making plays. Other teams are taking advantage of it.”

The midweek loss to Purdue comes three days after IU lost its first weekend series of the season to Ohio State.

Like the Ohio State series, IU’s bullpen was forced to pitch most of Wednesday’s game. Freshman Tommy Sommer pitched the first three innings against the Boilermakers before IU used four more pitchers during the rest of the game.

Lemonis said the absence of junior starting pitcher Pauly Milto, along with IU’s congested schedule last week in which the Hoosiers played five games, contributed to the recent bullpen struggles. 

He also said the team is still unsure of when Milto will return.

“Everybody just kind of got stretched I think is the biggest piece,” Lemonis said. “Hopefully we can get back out there and command the zone and play great defense.”

IU never led in Wednesday’s game, as Purdue took one-run leads in the first and third innings.

Sophomore outfielder Matt Gorski tied the game, 2-2, in the fourth after recording an inside-the-park-home-run. Gorski’s hit dropped in front of sophomore outfielder Skyler Hunter as he dove for the ball, allowing it to roll to the warning track as Gorski sped around the bases.

IU third base coach Kyle Cheesebrough put his hands up to motion Gorski to stop at third base, but Gorski ignored the signal and beat out the throw to home plate.

“I looked back at where the ball was and said ‘they're probably going to have to make the perfect play to get me out,’” Gorski said.

Junior catcher Ryan Fineman, Gorski and junior utility player Matt Lloyd all had two-hit performances for IU on offense. The three players hit in the fourth, fifth and sixth spots in the IU order.

It was only the second time since April 6, a game also against Purdue, in which IU scored three runs or fewer. 

“We’re not scoring a ton of runs right now,” Gorski said. “So if we can still play baseball aggressive, like we know we can, the product will be better.”

Purdue’s two runs in its half of the fourth, which came via a sacrifice fly and a fielder’s choice, put the Boilermakers ahead for good. 

IU did manage to score following Lloyd’s line out in the sixth on a double steal of second base and home plate, but IU failed to record a hit in the game’s final three innings.

The loss will not hurt IU in the Big Ten Conference standings, but it means IU will enter a crucial home weekend series against Illinois on its longest losing streak of the season.

“Little adversity,” Lemonis said. “The message is to make somebody else beat us instead of us beating ourselves. It’s been pretty easy for us until this past week. So, handle some adversity and be able to bounce back is a sign of a quality club.”

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