INDIANAPOLIS — IU’s win against Notre Dame on Tuesday night at Victory Field was more than a top-100 rating percentage index win for the Hoosiers.
The 3-0 victory against the Fighting Irish moved IU’s record to 8-1 against teams from the state of Indiana.
No. 8 IU has been the best team from the Hoosier state in the national rankings, and the Hoosiers proved it against Notre Dame.
“Every game right now seems big to these guys,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “They know what they’re playing for.”
The Hoosiers come out of Tuesday’s game ranked 26th in RPI, while Notre Dame is 84th. Indiana State is 70th while Purdue is 82nd.
Heading into a stretch of 10 in-state games in 21 days, IU was 16-5. Now, the Hoosiers are 27-6 with a home game against Ball State on Wednesday and a nonconference game at Ohio State afterward.
The Hoosiers started the season with 11 consecutive games on the road or at a neutral site. After starting the season in different locations around the country, IU has taken advantage of not leaving the state since late March.
“It’s a lot on these guys when they have to study,” Lemonis said. “Us being home does help. I like being near home."
IU and Notre Dame have battled off the field as well, as both teams competed for the recruitment of junior catcher Ryan Fineman. IU won the battle, as Fineman chose the Hoosiers.
He made his presence felt against the Irish by breaking a scoreless tie with a two-run, two-out home run in the bottom of the sixth inning.
However, Fineman said it was just another game.
“It definitely felt good, but the win feels better,” Fineman said. “We play well against in-state teams. We got Ball State tomorrow night, so we gotta get that W and forget about this one.”
IU’s rise to being the cream of the Indiana crop has come in large part to the offensive depth of the roster.
IU’s pitching has also proven its worth recently.
Early in the season, junior starters Jonathan Stiever and Pauly Milto led the way for the Hoosiers, as the bullpen often saved the day for the Sunday and midweek starters.
It has changed in recent weeks, as starters other than Stiever and Milto have thrown 36.1 innings while giving up nine earned runs in eight outings.
Against Notre Dame, it was junior Tim Herrin who set the tone by pitching six shutout innings.
“Everything felt good today,” Herrin said. “Just grinding, just working as hard as I can. A lot of confidence right now moving forward, and hopefully I keep it going.”
IU’s team earned run average of 2.27 ranks first nationally after the shutout of Notre Dame.
Combined with a team batting average in the top-20 nationally, IU has made its way to the top of the state.
These numbers have helped IU win the state of Indiana and give the team potential for more success as Big Ten play gets tougher.