IU baseball has bounced between losing streaks and winning streaks early in the 2019 season.
A three-game sweep by the University of Tennessee in late February was answered with a three-game winning streak. Then another three-game losing streak last week was answered with a four-game sweep of Canisius College that gives IU its current win streak.
The team will take that streak on the road for a midweek matchup with Indiana State University. Here are three things to know before first pitch at 4 p.m. Tuesday.
1. IU has bullpen depth.
A four-game series that includes a doubleheader could be tough for a pitching staff, but that isn’t the case for IU.
Hoosier starters combined to pitch 24 innings in the four-game series, allowing Coach Jeff Mercer to minimize his bullpen use.
Freshman Gabe Bierman will likely get the nod again for IU as he did last week in a midweek matchup at the University of Cincinnati. In the loss, Bierman threw five innings while giving up no earned runs.
The bullpen could not secure the win as it would give up six runs in the final three innings of that game. Given the rest most of the pitchers were given last weekend, IU should be in a better position to close out Tuesday.
2. IU’s offense has come to life.
Canisius never stood much of a chance against IU because of the offense the home team brought to Bart Kaufman Field. The Hoosiers scored 51 runs in the four games and were able to cut down on strikeout totals at the plate.
With outfielders sophomore Elijah Dunham and senior Logan Kaletha battling injuries, freshman Grant Richardson was given a starting role in each of the last five games. He has batted 7-for-19 and drove in six runs in the stint.
Dunham was given an at-bat Sunday against Canisius which could mean a return to the lineup soon, but Richardson has certainly earned the starting role for the time being as he has helped rejuvenate IU’s offense.
Junior outfielder Matt Gorski has continued his tear at the top of IU’s lineup. In the last five games, Gorski has had three multi-hit games capped off by a home run in Saturday’s second leg of the doubleheader.
3. Indiana State has taken advantage of a weak schedule.
The Sycamores come into Tuesday’s matchup with a 16-1 record. Most of Indiana State’s wins have come against mid-major schools, but the team won 4-3 against Purdue on March 13.
Indiana State has a team earned run average of 2.5 while scoring more than seven runs per game. Four regular starters for the Sycamores have a batting average north of .300, led by junior catcher Max Wright.
Wright is batting .426 and has driven in 14 runs while hitting only two home runs. Of his 23 hits, seven have been for extra bases and he has only drawn five walks this year.
Wright’s consistent ability to put the ball in play could create problems for IU defensively.
Though where Indiana State could give IU problems in the field, one flaw for Indiana State in the early season has been its own defense as the team has committed 19 errors in 17 games. As seen in the Canisius series, IU takes advantage of mistakes made by other teams in the field.
If Indiana State cleans up its game, it has a chance of defeating its in-state rival. However, if the Sycamores struggle in the field then the Hoosiers could come out on top like they did both times the teams faced off last season.