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Tuesday, June 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Number of IU baseball players excelling in summer leagues this year


Since the conclusion of the 2018 regular season, 21 members of the IU baseball program have spread across the country to play summer baseball and many of them have been turning heads.

In leagues from New England to the South to the Midwest, multiple Hoosiers are looking to improve their games and possibly catch the eye of pro scouts.

Most of the players in summer ball this year are ones who fans should be familiar with, but there are a few that have yet to take the field in Bloomington due to redshirting in 2018. 

The trio of Lane Miller, Tyler Van Pelt and Gavin Napier are playing summer ball close to campus.

Napier has been playing for the Dubois County Bombers of the Ohio Valley League. The Austin, Indiana, native has seen action in 12 games, recording 35 at-bats and a batting average of .286. Napier’s .458 on-base percentage is one of the best on the team, and he’s hit a home run, too.

Fellow redshirts Miller and Van Pelt have spent their summers with the Terre Haute Rex of the Prospect League. 

Miller particularly has been impressive. The righthander out of Boonville, Indiana, owns a 3-0 record, a 2.12 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP across nearly 30 innings on the mound in six games. He’s struck out 23 batters and walked only 13.

Van Pelt’s summer has been a bag of mixed results. The Bloomington High School South alumnus is hitting just .186 across 70 at-bats in 21 games, but he’s driven in 10 runs, drawn nine walks, and stolen four bases.

A bright spot for the summer came June 17, when Van Pelt went 2-4 with a walk, a stolen base and a pair of runs batted in.

IU’s strong freshman class from last season has been in action as well.

Utilityman Drew Ashley has been in Terre Haute with the aforementioned Miller and Van Pelt. The Chandler, Indiana, native has hit .300 in 40 at-bats across 12 games, adding on nine walks to boost his on base percentage to .442. 

Despite only three extra-base hits for Ashley, he’s driven in five runs. He’s also stolen five bases.

Another member of IU’s freshman class, infielder Cole Barr, has been playing in the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. The Yorktown, Indiana, native has hit .264 in 53 at-bats for the Amsterdam Mohawks, posting an on-base percentage of .426. 

Evansville, Indiana, native Elijah Dunham has had a solid performance so far in the New England Collegiate Baseball League this summer. He’s posted a .317 batting average in 82 at-bats on the season, getting on base at a .385 clip. 

Despite not hitting a home run all season for the Hoosiers, Dunham has hit three for the Plymouth Pilgrims. He’s also driven in 11 runs and stolen three bases. The lefty primarily played first base in his first season as a Hoosier, but this summer he’s also seen time in the outfield.

IU also has representation in the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League, as infielder Caleb Balgaard has been playing for the Lake Erie Monarchs this summer. The Michigan native is hitting .318 with six extra-base hits, including a home run, in 60 at-bats. The rising sophomore has also driven in eight runs for the Monarchs after not seeing the field as a freshman with the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers also have a handful of players in the Northwoods League this summer. The freshman duo of Tommy Sommer and Sam Crail are playing for the Kalamazoo Growlers, while Justin Walker, Pat Loeffler and Cade Bunnell have been suiting up for the Rockford Rivets.

On Friday, Sommer got his first start for Kalamazoo, going seven innings and giving up four runs to get the win against the Green Bay Bullfrogs. Before that, he had only worked out of the bullpen. The lefthander from Carmel, Indiana, has had a good summer for the Growlers, pitching to a 4-0 record and a 2.89 ERA.

Sommer’s Kalamazoo teammate Crail has also been performing well this summer. The outfielder has hit .310 across 17 games, driving in nine runs and stealing five bases. He has nine extra-base hits thus far, including a triple and a home run.

Walker is having an up-and-down summer at the plate. The switch-hitter is hitting only .200 for Rockford, but he’s driven in 11 runs and stolen five bases. His strikeout-to-walk ratio isn’t exactly what fans would like to see either, as he’s struck out 20 times while drawing nine walks.

Then-freshman Justin Walker throws the ball to first base during the Hoosiers' game against the Indiana State Sycamores on April 10.  Evan De Stefano

After not seeing any game action with IU in 2018, Loeffler has gotten extensive playing time for the Rivets this summer. The Illinois native is hitting just .205 on the season, but he’s still been productive at the plate. Loeffler has driven in 17 runs which leads all Rockford hitters. He’s also hit a pair of home runs and drawn 15 walks.

Another player looking to build some momentum heading into fall ball is Bunnell. In his first season as a Hoosier after transferring from Madison Junior College, he only saw 14 at bats, making three starts in the cream and crimson. 

Since joining the Rivets, he’s gotten more playing time. He’s hitting .263 with a pair of home runs. He’s driven in nine runs and drawn seven walks. Bunnell has also seen time on the mound for the Rivets. He’s given up a pair of runs in four innings and struck out six batters.

The Hoosiers also have a few players competing in the prestigious Cape Cod League this summer, with Cal Krueger and Matt Gorski getting the most playing time of the group as members of the Harwich Mariners.

Then-sophomore infielder Matt Gorski rounds third base against Cincinnati on March 6 at Bart Kaufman Field. Gorski is playing for the Harwich Mariners this summer. Bobby Goddin

Krueger has been solid outside of his first outing of the summer. In that outing, the righthander gave up five runs in just under three innings, but he’s given up just two runs total since. 

Krueger has worked mainly out of the bullpen, but he’s made two starts for Harwich so far. The Jasper, Indiana, native has struck out 11 batters in over 13 innings.

Pitcher Cal Krueger was one of the four relievers to pitch for IU against Purdue on April 25. Krueger is playing for the Harwich Mariners this summer.  Anna Tiplick

Krueger’s Harwich teammate, Gorski, has been solid this summer, hitting .271 thus far. The outfielder has driven in a trio of runs, but has struck out in nearly half of his at-bats.

This is just a start for many of these players. With all of the recent coaching developments in Bloomington and with a number of players from the 2018 season turning pro, the rest of this summer and upcoming fall will be crucial for many of these players. 

There are multiple lineup spots up for grabs as well as a place in the pitching rotation to fill and bullpen innings to be earned.

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