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Monday, June 24
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU to play Kentucky in midweek game in Bloomington

RyanFineman.JPG

A weekend sweep by Minnesota in Minneapolis will leave the IU baseball team happy to be back at Bart Kaufman Field.

The Hoosiers enter a midweek matchup Tuesday with Kentucky after being swept for the first time this season. IU has lost five consecutive road games, but has been strong at home by winning 18 of its 22 games at Bart Kaufman Field this season.

The game between the Wildcats and Hoosiers will have large implications as each team ranks inside or close to the top-25 national rankings.

The last time the two teams played was also the final game of the 2017 season for IU.

In its third game of the Lexington Regional of last year's NCAA Tournament, IU was defeated 14-9. The Wildcats also defeated IU in the regular season with a 5-2 victory in Lexington.

With just eight games left in the regular season for IU, here are three things to know for the matchup with Kentucky.

High-power offense

The Kentucky offense has been a tough task for opposing pitching staffs all season.

The Wildcats rank 24th nationally in batting average and 14th in runs scored.

A large part of the team’s offensive success comes from its ability to hit the long-ball. Kentucky ranks fourth in the nation with 70 home runs on the year. This could pose a threat to an IU pitching staff that struggled to keep the ball in the park last weekend against Minnesota.

The Golden Gophers were able to hit seven home runs against the Hoosiers, highlighted by three solo shots in the eighth inning to tie the score of Sunday's game.

Whoever IU Coach Chris Lemonis decides to send out on the mound Tuesday will have a tough task as Kentucky is patient at the plate as well, ranking tied-15th in the nation in walks.

Pitching matchup

Despite giving up 20 runs in three games against Minnesota, Lemonis was not forced to use any of his rotating midweek starters during the weekend series.

No announcement has been made in terms of who will be starting for IU. However, the previous two midweek starters — freshmen Tommy Sommer and Connor Manous — have not pitched since last week’s loss at Purdue.

Along with Sommer and Manous, IU could go to its usual Saturday starter.

Junior starting pitcher Pauly Milto has not made a start since April 13 against Northwestern, however, he pitched an inning against Minnesota out of the bullpen.

Freshman starting pitcher Daniel Harper has been to go-to guy for Kentucky during its midweek matchups this season. He comes into the game with IU owning a 2-2 record and a 5.58 earned run average. 

Not so fine weekend

Junior catcher Ryan Fineman has been a solid bat in the heart of IU’s lineup, batting over .300 on the season.

However, Fineman has hit a bit of a slump going zero for 11 in the series against Minnesota while striking out four times. Fineman also struggled against Kentucky last season, going zero for six in the two games.

Regardless of the struggles, Fineman still ranks third among everyday starters on the team in terms of batting average, after batting .239 last season.

Having Fineman break out of his slump could be big for an IU lineup that scored eight runs in the series against Minnesota, with six of those coming in the final game. 

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