Indiana Daily Student

IU baseball shows its potential at the 2018 Fall World Series

<p>Junior catcher Ryan Fineman hits a home run, bringing Fineman and junior outfielder Logan Kaletha in to score against Notre Dame on April 17 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. IU ended its season with a loss to Texas on Sunday.</p>

Junior catcher Ryan Fineman hits a home run, bringing Fineman and junior outfielder Logan Kaletha in to score against Notre Dame on April 17 at Victory Field in Indianapolis. IU ended its season with a loss to Texas on Sunday.

Green hair was the punishment for the losing manager at the 2018 IU baseball Fall World Series, which is a competition played between the team. 

Senior Ryan Fineman will be the victim of such a look, as his team lost the Fall World Series 2-1 to senior Wyatt Cross’ team. With Fineman and Cross sharing a bathroom at their home, Fineman will get his fair share of teasing.

“Every morning when I get to see him in there, combing his hair, it’s going to be pretty funny,” Cross said. “Just any Fall World Series, I’ll probably text him, 10 years from now when I see something about the Fall World Series, I’m going to be like, ‘Hey, remember that.’”

In terms of competition, some weaknesses were exposed, but there were a number of positive standouts.

“I thought they were fine,” first-year Coach Jeff Mercer said of the three games. “I thought we had some sloppy play at times. I thought our approaches offensively earlier in the weekend were subpar. At the same time, I thought for the most part, we pitched really well.”

Senior Pauly Milto started game one for Team Fineman, and threw five strong innings, setting down the first 13 batters he faced. With Milto on the mound, Team Fineman jumped out to a 2-0 lead with junior centerfielder Matt Gorski driving in the first run. Team Cross tied it in the fifth, as junior Carter Bridge and senior Logan Kaletha each drove in a run. Team Cross eventually won the game in the eighth, as sophomore Justin Walker hit a high, chopping ground ball that allowed Bridge to come home.

Team Cross clinched the series in game two, this time with much more offense. Gorski scored in the top of the first inning, which was one of the four runs he scored in the game for Team Fineman. Freshman Grant Richardson tied the game up for Team Cross with a solo home run in the second, and Cross went ahead on an error allowing Bridge to score.

Team Fineman was down to its final strike when junior Pat Loeffler hit a game-tying, two-run home run in the top of the seventh. Ultimately, Cross would win on a Scotty Bradley walk-off walk in the bottom of the eighth, giving Cross an 8-7 win, and a series-clinching 2-0 lead.

Game three featured just as much offense, most of it coming in the first three innings. Kaletha and Walker each scored in the first for Team Cross, before sophomore Drew Ashley led off the bottom of the inning with a home run. Team Fineman then added three more runs in the bottom of the second on a Sam Crail three-run home run.

Cross scored three runs in the third inning, to come within one run, but Fineman found some more breathing room with a Loeffler sacrifice fly. Team Cross made it interesting with a Justin Walker triple in the top of the seventh to driving in Kaletha and come within one again, with the tying run 90 feet away. Team Fineman got out of the jam, and won the game 7-6.

Ultimately, it was a combination of both new and familiar faces that suck out. Ashley was a triple shy of the cycle in game three, and was aggressive on the base paths, something Mercer wants to emphasize.

“We’ve always done that, that’s something we practice every day,” Mercer said. “We work base running as much as, or more than, anyone in the country.”

The Hoosiers' fall season is over. The next time the team is in action will be the season opener Feb. 15 on the road against Memphis.

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