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IU baseball welcomes Ball State for midweek tilt



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Junior infielder Jeremy Houston prepares to hit the ball March 23 at Bart Kaufman Field. IU will play Ball State University on April 16 in Bloomington. Alex Deryn Buy Photos

For what will be the first of two games against each other in the span of one week, IU baseball will welcome Ball State University to Bloomington for a midweek contest against an in-state foe.

Ball State comes to town at 23-12 and on the heels of a series win against Eastern Michigan University. On the season, Ball State has taken a game from University of Alabama and pushed Stanford University to the brink in the season opener.

Ball State's offense has been the main source of its success this season. Six of its normal eight starters are batting over .300 this season, led by junior outfielder Aaron Simpson, who is hitting .370.

Senior infielder John Ricotta has six home runs and 31 RBIs on the year while junior infielder Ross Messina has four home runs and 36 RBIs.

On the mound, Ball State can go any number of ways. The team has experimented with a handful of arms in the midweek role and have yet to announce a starter for Tuesday.

A pitcher like senior Nick Floyd, who is 5-0 with a 2.35 earned run average, could get the nod Tuesday. He’s been arguably the team's most productive pitcher and started last Tuesday’s victory over Butler University.

On the other side of things, IU is coming into this game on a seven-game win streak. After a small period of inconsistency, IU has turned things around and just finished off a four-game sweep of University of Evansville.

IU is starting to figure things out at the right time. The starting pitching behind senior Pauly Milto and juniors Tanner Gordon and Andrew Saalfrank has been consistently strong, each postiting quality starts with regularity.

The problem over the past few weeks, however, has been the midweek games. IU lost to both Kent State University and Wright State University before narrowly beating Purdue last Wednesday.

With a bullpen that’s beginning to get healthier, IU has multiuple pitching options for Tuesday’s affair. Sophomore Tommy Sommer and freshmen Gabe Bierman and Alex Franklin could all see time on the mound. Freshman McCade Brown has become a favorite of IU Coach Jeff Mercer but has struggled in his two starts.

Ball State is ranked 150th in the D1 Baseball Ratings Percentage Index as of Monday, IU is 23rd. First pitch is at 6:05 p.m. at Bart Kaufman Field.

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