IU Head Coach Jeff Mercer smiled as he exchanged greetings with his former players Wednesday night.
Mercer, who coached Wright State University for the past two seasons and played for it from 2007-08, helped build it to one of the most respectable mid-major programs in the nation.
Mercer’s former players dominated IU with a 15-4 win Wednesday in Bloomington.
“It was good to see a lot of the players,” Mercer said. “Obviously I recruited those players, being there the last five years. Obviously once the game starts, they’re another team to compete against. I love those guys, but once the game starts, you just go play.”
Although Wright State played well, IU’s costly mistakes may have hurt it more than anything. Two errors, eight walks and two passed balls by IU led to many offensive chances for Wright State.
IU freshman pitcher McCade Brown made his collegiate debut on the mound but quickly dug himself into a hole. Three walks in the first inning, followed by a fielder’s choice, gave Wright State an early lead. Still, Mercer said he was impressed with what he saw from Brown in his first collegiate appearance.
“I was glad to see McCade Brown out there today,” Mercer said. “He’s such a good kid, and he’s worked really hard. With some of the midweek struggles, we felt like it was the right time to bring him in.”
IU sophomore infielder Cole Barr tied the game with his conference leading 11th home run of the season.
From there on, it was all Wright State.
Wright State outfielder Peyton Burdick and infielder Seth Gray both had outstanding days at the plate. Burdick had two hits and two runs batted in while Gray added two hits of his own with three runs batted in.
IU had many well-hit balls but it couldn’t get anything to fall. Junior outfielder Matt Gorski added a solo home run while Scotty Bradley continued his hot streak with a two-run shot.
Wednesday’s offensive performance proved how much IU relies on home runs. With 55 home runs this season, IU is sparked by power but also dampered by strikeouts.
“We have talented players, and we have really good coaches,” Mercer said. “When you have a combination of players with physical talent that work as well as talented coaches, good things can happen.”
IU will look to get back on track this weekend as it welcomes Penn State to Bloomington. Penn State is winless in conference play but is 15-8 on the season as of Wednesday.