Junior outfielder Matt Gorski knew it off the bat.
All he had to do was sit there and watch the ball go. His seventh-inning grand slam that cleared the scoreboard in left field was the final nail in the coffin Tuesday as IU rolled to a 14-3 win over Ball State University.
Sophomore pitcher Tommy Sommer made his return to a starter’s role in a big way. The left-hander, who was starting his first game since March 3, had a career-high 10 strikeouts in six innings while allowing just two runs.
“I love Tommy’s maturity, his composure," ” IU coach Jeff Mercer said. "The breaking ball wasn’t great tonight and he said fine I don’t need it. His ability to work the fast ball in early really opened up the rest of the plate late with the changeup. He doesn’t try to overthrow, and he’s always composed.”
Right from the first inning, the result of the game was never in doubt. Throughout this season, the IU offense has had its fair share of struggles during mid-week games. There was a 15-4 loss to Wright State University and a 9-8 loss to Kent State University. But on Tuesday IU turned in an offensive outpour led by five home runs from five different players.
Gorski was the player to blow it open with his grand slam, but he was also the player to start the scoring Tuesday afternoon. Gorski walked in the first inning followed by senior utilityman Matt Lloyd walking as well. Junior utilityman Scotty Bradley brought them both home with a triple to right center field and IU took a 2-0 lead, a lead it would never relinquish.
“I was a little gassed. I saw the ball a little and knew that was the spot of the park where you can get three. They were making fun of me in the dugout but I got there safely,” Bradley said. “To get on the board early is awesome because they’re a really great team and they have some good arms.”
Sophomore Cole Barr, sophomore infielder Sam Crail, Lloyd and Bradley all had home runs to join Gorski. It was the offensive outburst that fans have come to expect from IU.
The win was one of IU's most complete games this season. The offense was had one of its best performances. Sommer, sophomore Austin Long and freshman Matt Litwicki had strong days on the mound and Barr, Gorski and freshman outfielder Grant Richardson had great diving plays in the field.
“The starting pitching, the defense and the quality at-bats,” Mercer said. “It’s cliche, but that’s what wins ballgames, and we’re doing those at a much higher clip.”
The win over Ball State pushes IU’s record to 25-12. It was its eighth win in a row. IU recently cracked the top 25 of D1 Baseball’s Ratings Percentage Index rankings and is playing its best baseball of the season. IU will get three games this weekend against Michigan State on the road, the last-place team in the Big Ten.
“I think a big part of this streak is that we’re able to win in different ways,” Bradley said. “Obviously we got a big win tonight, and that’s great. But to be able to come from behind and have teams tie it up late and still find a way to win, that’s great. Hopefully we’ll keep it up here heading into Michigan State.”