IU’s game against Iowa on Saturday was never in doubt.
From the dominating outing from junior pitcher Tanner Gordon to freshman outfielder Grant Richardson’s outstanding day at the plate, IU baseball got a complete effort up and down its lineup.
It culminated in a 13-1 win over Iowa for its seventh-straight win and a guaranteed series win to open conference play in Gordon’s first-ever Big Ten start.
“It felt really good out there,” Gordon said. “I was thankful the offense came through today. It made my job a heck of a lot easier. Going out there and knowing I had 8, 9 runs made me very comfortable on the mound.”
Gordon’s career day on the mound made sure this game was never in reach. The junior came into Saturday with a 1-3 record and a 5.74 earned run average, but he has seemingly found a groove as of late.
After 10 strikeouts against Canisius College last Saturday, Gordon topped that effort with a new career high in strikeouts with 12. He allowed just three hits and one run over seven innings.
“One it’s warmed up, which helps big guys like that,” IU Coach Jeff Mercer said. “They’ve continued to work with mechanical adjustments. It’s just him getting more comfortable to allow his stuff to play out.”
The IU offense cooled off last night, putting up just three runs in nine innings. However, it found its rhythm once again Saturday. Richardson went 3-for-4 with four runs batted in. Junior outfielder Matt Gorski finished with three runs batted in while sophomore outfielder Elijah Dunham finished with two.
After Saturday’s offensive performance, IU has now scored 82 runs over it’s seven-game winning streak. Throughout the first couple of weekends, IU struggled to score runs but Mercer has seemed to find a lineup that works.
“I would say it’s our best lineup,” Mercer said. "The biggest thing is that we’re understanding our approaches as a group. We understand how to have an at-bat. As we’ve understood how offense is produced, we’ve been able to run more, put more people in motion and get more RBI at-bats.”
IU will go for the sweep of Iowa tomorrow afternoon at 1:05 p.m. Junior Andrew Saalfrank, who is replacing injured sophomore Tommy Sommer in the Sunday spot, will get the ball for IU.
A series sweep of a mid-tier opponent in the Big Ten could do wonders for the title race in a league that appears to be top heavy with Illinois, Michigan and IU.
“You get two straight good starts and your defense has been great, and that allows everyone to settle down,” Mercer said. “Now we have to go finish off the series at home. We can’t be satisfied with winning a series. The opportunity to sweep a series in conference is a critical challenge we need to meet and I’m certain that our guys will come out ready to meet that."
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