IU baseball will return down south this weekend as it heads back to the Volunteer state for a three-game series with the University of Tennessee.
The Hoosiers are currently 2-1 on the young season after taking two of three from University of Memphis last weekend.
Senior pitcher Pauly Milto set the tone early Friday night for the Hoosiers with a seven-inning, seven-strikeout win over the Tigers. Milto’s performance was no surprise to many, but the pitching performances from junior Tanner Gordon and sophomore Tommy Sommer raised eyebrows last weekend.
“Tanner, his composure on the mound was really impressive to me,” Milto said. “Being his first D1 start, him being able to go out there and do his thing was awfully impressive.”
In IU Coach Jeff Mercer’s first weekend leading the team, he utilized many different lineup combinations. In total, 14 different position players earned at-bats. To Mercer, this weekend was more than just finding the right batting order. It served as his introduction to learning his players’ game day approaches.
“You get a little more comfortable,” Mercer said. “The guys get to know us a little more and we get to know them and their personality. We get to have an honest assessment a little more this week on how they handle the pressure and the moment.”
IU will meet a Tennessee club that has yet to allow a run on the season. In three games against Appalachian State University and one against Northern Kentucky University, Tennessee has outscored its opponents 29-0.
Junior infielder Luc Lipcius and sophomore outfielder Evan Russell have paced Tennessee with .500 and .400 batting averages, respectively. Tennessee has also hit five home runs so far this season.
On the mound, both junior Garrett Stallings and senior Will Neely went seven strong innings in their first starts of the season for the Volunteers.
“We’re going to try to play to matchups and our strengths,” Mercer said. “We have a lot of talent but we also have a lot of depth so we want to be able to take advantage of that.”
Any matchup with an SEC ball club allows for some résumé-building opportunities. IU would be more than happy to take a series sweep of Tennessee, but for that to happen, the bats are going to have to come alive for IU this weekend.