After a sloppy 9-8 loss against Kent State University on Wednesday, IU baseball will look to bounce back with a weekend series at Maryland.
The loss against the Golden Flashes snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Hoosiers, but Head Coach Jeff Mercer will have the benefit of sending his top arms to get the team back on track.
Here are three things to know before 15-9 IU takes on 12-11 Maryland.
1. Pauly Milto and Tanner Gordon have been rolling on the mound.
Whenever IU has needed a win this season, senior starting pitcher Pauly Milto has been a rock for the team. Milto’s 2.28 earned run average leads starters on the team to go along with his 42 strikeouts.
Milto will get the nod Friday as usual and will look to top last week’s outing against Iowa, where he went 8.1 innings and gave up one earned run.
Following him on Saturday will be junior transfer Tanner Gordon. Mercer has been high on Gordon all season and has given him the Saturday role from the start of the year.
After struggling to go more than four innings in each of his first four starts, Gordon has started to find a groove. In his last two outings, Gordon has combined for 15 innings pitched and just two runs allowed.
With sophomore pitcher Tommy Sommer still battling an injury, junior Andrew Saalfrank will get the Sunday start for the fourth week in a row. Last Sunday against Iowa, Saalfrank only pitched two innings.
But if Milto and Gordon continue their strong work, it will give Mercer a comfortable situation Sunday to go to the bullpen early if needed.
2. The Hoosiers need to clean up their defense.
Mercer made his thoughts on IU’s loss to Kent State very clear after the game.
“We didn’t do anything that can be confused for decent baseball,” Mercer said.
Thanks in large part to six fielding errors, IU continuously hurt itself in the loss. The Hoosiers now average more than an error per game.
Maryland has eight fewer errors than IU does this season, so as long as IU can clean up its performance, the team should be able to capitalize on Maryland’s mistake.
3. Maryland has been struggling.
The Terrapins come into their first conference series on a three-game losing streak. Maryland had no midweek game, so the team has been able to give all its pitchers rest after being swept at home against Creighton University last weekend.
Maryland has a team ERA close to four, but the team scores more than five runs per game. The team’s top hitter is senior infielder Taylor Wright, who is hitting nearly .300 along with one home run and 10 runs driven in.
Senior Hunter Parsons and freshman Trevor LaBonte are the team’s top starting pitchers. Both have an ERA of 2.63.
First pitchesare at 6:30 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.