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IU baseball travels to South Alabama Invitational this weekend



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Senior catcher Ryan Fineman takes a deep breath before batting May 16, 2019, at Bart Kaufman Field. IU will compete in the South Alabama Tournament this weekend in Mobile, Alabama. Alex Deryn

IU baseball will face three opponents this weekend in its second series of the season at the South Alabama Invitational in Mobile, Alabama.

The team is scheduled to play the University of Tennessee at Martin at 2 p.m. Friday, No. 30 University of South Alabama at 12 p.m. Saturday and Siena College at 12 p.m. Sunday.

The Hoosiers enter the tournament after winning the final game in their series against Louisiana State University. They lost the series 2-1.

Head coach Jeff Mercer said he hopes to continue the improvement the team showed in its last series.

The Hoosiers struggled to hit in the first game but picked up in the next two. Not all of those hits translated into runs, however. IU stranded 27 players on base against LSU.

Sophomore outfielder Grant Richardson led the team’s offensive achievements with a double, a triple, a home run and 5 RBIs. He said he looks to continue his success this weekend, but he tries to take each at bat one at a time.

“It’s just the beginning of the year,” Richardson said. “I gotta keep going. I gotta keep on working.”

Richardson said he was encouraged by the team’s ability to hit, even if not all those hits ended in runs.

“Being able to get base runners on any time is a good sign,” Richardson said.

IU’s first opponent of the weekend is UT Martin, a team that showed hitting prowess in its first series against Saint Louis University on Feb. 14-16. The Skyhawks lost the series 1-2. Freshman infielder Wil LaFollette went 5-9 from the plate, ending the series with a .556 batting average. Redshirt senior outfielder Sean Dixson had two home runs in the first game.

IU’s pitching also improved throughout its series with LSU. Sophomore Braydon Tucker pitched six innings and allowed only one run in his first start for the Hoosiers.

South Alabama’s pitching staff was strong in the first game of their series against Campbell University on Feb. 14-15, which it won 2-1. Senior Drake Nightengale, who started and pitched five innings, and junior Tyler Lehrmann, who pitched four innings, teamed up and didn't allow any runs.

Siena lost its series against University of Central Florida 0-4.

Mercer said he hopes to improve on the team’s defensive skills. IU had errors in each of its games against LSU.

“If we can take care of the ball a bit better and we can limit our walks from our pitching staff, you really make it difficult for anyone to score two and three runs at a time,” Mercer said.

Mercer said these strategies will help the Hoosiers win at a high level.

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