Indiana Daily Student

IU baseball caps off up and down week with four game sweep of Canisius

Senior catcher Ryan Fineman swings at a pitch March 17 at Bart Kaufman Field. Indiana defeated Canisius College to improve to 11-8 on the season.
Senior catcher Ryan Fineman swings at a pitch March 17 at Bart Kaufman Field. Indiana defeated Canisius College to improve to 11-8 on the season.

After losing three of the first four games between March 8-13, IU baseball needed its offense to bounce back.

A four game set with Canisius College did the trick, as IU scored 51 runs and had 53 hits in a four game series sweep, capped off by a 12-1 win Sunday.

“There was one inning we got a little big and had some fly balls but from the first to the ninth, offensively, defensively and on the mound, I thought today was our best overall performance of the season," IU Coach Jeff Mercer said.

IU started the week March 8 with a game against the University of Washington as the first of a three game tournament in Seattle. Behind a dominant, eight inning performance from senior Pauly Milto, IU won the game 1-0. Milto took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

However, the rest of the tournament was a struggle for IU. Against 2018 National Champion Oregon State University, IU surged out to a lead but faltered late, dropping the second game of the weekend 8-3. 

IU couldn’t salvage the final game of the weekend against the University of San Diego as a three run hole in the first inning spelled trouble for IU the rest of the way. Normal Sunday starter sophomore Tommy Sommer was replaced by junior Andrew Saalfrank who hit two batters in the first inning and gave up three runs. IU fell 5-3 to cap off what was a weekend of missed chances.

On Wednesday, IU traveled to the University of Cincinnati to play a team it had beaten 7-1 just two weeks before. IU got strong performances from junior Matt Gorski and freshman Grant Richardson. However, the bullpen imploded late, allowing six runs between three different pitchers as IU ultimately lost the game.

IU’s offensive onslaught began Friday afternoon in an 18-6 win over Canisius. Led by senior Ryan Fineman’s 3-for-3 effort with five runs batted in, IU’s offense got off to a hot start to the weekend. Milto went six innings, giving IU another quality start and earning his fourth win of the season. 

IU would go on to sweep the doubleheader Saturday, winning 5-2 in the first game and 16-5 in the second. 

IU got strong starting pitching performances all weekend from Milto, junior Tanner Gordon, freshman Alex Franklin and junior Andrew Saalfrank, who cruised through the Canisius lineup with 14 strikeouts in a seven inning performance.

“For me, it’s just about fastball command,” Saalfrank said. “If I have that command it’s normally a good day for me. When I have an off day, it’s because I can’t throw it when and where I want to, but today was not the case, so things went well.”

IU’s four game sweep of Canisius pushes its record back over .500 at 11-8. The upcoming week brings a tough mid-week game against Indiana State University and then the opening conference series against Iowa next weekend. 

As IU turns the page into conference play, Mercer said he believes the players starting to take the level of approach he wants to see out of them.

“We’re playing more of the style and brand that we want to play,” Mercer said. “You look at the adjustments and approaches and you see the incremental growth and improvement.” 

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