In the heart of Big Ten play for IU baseball comes the usual midweek game. This Wednesday, IU, 15-8 on the season, is tasked with Kent State University.
Riding an eight-game winning streak, the Hoosiers will look to improve their home record to 10-0 before traveling to Maryland for a weekend series.
Here are three things to know before IU takes on Kent State.
1. Jeff Mercer is familiar with the opponent.
The last time IU and Kent State faced off was March 6, 2010, when IU won 3-0 on the road. None of the players from that game are still on the team,but it is a familiar opponent for first-year IU Coach Jeff Mercer.
Mercer, who came over from Ohio where he coached Wright State University, defeated Kent State last year before being named the head coach at IU.
“Coach Duncan and Coach Simmons are good friends of mine,” Mercer said. “They’ll be greatly prepared and ready to go.”
Despite a 9-12 record, the Golden Flashes are 3-0 against Big Ten opponents this season, having defeated Michigan State in late February and beating Northwestern twice March 15.
IU will have the benefit of forcing Kent State to hit the road, where the team is just 4-9.
2. IU will likely use its bullpen early.
Freshman pitcher Gabe Bierman has been the go-to guy for IU in the last three midweek games, where he has gone 2-1 and had his best outing come in the loss.
However, Mercer brought in Bierman during Sunday’s win against Iowa after junior Andrew Saalfrank went just two innings.
Mercer said Bierman will be available for the midweek but could go to the bullpen early with freshman Alex Franklin and sophomores Braden Scott, Connor Manous and Grant Sloan all available.
“We’ll be fine,” Mercer said. “We’ll be able to manage it. We’ll have to kind of piece it together a little bit.”
3. The team has no update on Logan Kaletha.
Senior centerfielder Logan Kaletha suffered a lower-body injury after he advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt Sunday.
He was taken out of the game and no official word has been given on the extent of his injury.
For Kaletha, it was his first weekend series since suffering another lower-body injury earlier this season. He batted 4-for-10 in the series against Iowa including a walk-off single on Friday before the injury on the basepath.
“Hope he’s OK, but if he’s not, it’s going to have to be the next guy up,” Mercer said. “We’re going to have to move forward. There’s a whole season left to play, and we’re going to have to handle it.”