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IU baseball falls on the road 5-4 against Evansville



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Junior Elijah Dunham prepares to catch the ball at first base March 7 at Bart Kaufman Field. Ally Melnik

IU head coach Jeff Mercer’s starting pitcher and catcher both made their IU debut Tuesday against Evansville. Their inexperience showed in a 5-4 loss to the Purple aces. 

This was IU's third straight loss and fourth in the last six games, dropping IU’s record to 8-6. It was IU’s third straight loss and fourth loss in the last six games. 

Evansville entered the game with a 4-11 record and was 229th out of 301 in Ratings Percentage Index. The loss could stain IU’s resume for postseason bracket selection. 

IU freshman starting pitcher John Modugno struggled in his collegiate debut. Modugno allowed five earned runs over three innings. He walked four batters while striking out only three. He had one wild pitch and hit one batter. He finished his first game with a 15.00 earned run average. 

Ultimately, the four runs Modugno allowed in the third inning were too much for IU to overcome. IU was down 5-1 in the fourth inning, and the offense failed to bounce back from its poor performance against the University of San Diego last weekend. 

The Hoosiers received strong performances from the bullpen with freshman pitcher Nathan Stahl throwing two shutout innings and senior pitcher Braden Scott adding the final three innings without allowing a run. The two combined to allow just two hits while striking out seven batters and walking one. Those performances gave IU a chance to come back. 

IU scored two runs in the top of the fourth and one more in the fifth to close the deficit to one run but didn’t score again for the rest of the game. Though the Hoosiers were not bereft of opportunities, stranding 11 base runners in the game. 

Sophomore outfielder Grant Richardson had two of IU’s six hits, the only IU player with multiple hits. Junior third baseman Cole Barr led the IU lineup with two RBIs. 

Junior catcher Hunter Combs — a transfer from John A. Logan College — started against Evansville for his IU debut. He went 0-2 with one strikeout. Defensively he allowed one passed ball and one stolen base but had no errors. IU’s defense, which has at times struggled, didn’t have a single error in the loss. 

In their last three games, the Hoosiers have now scored a total of 11 runs and have stranded 30 base runners. 

IU will play again against the University of Cincinnati on Wednesday. Freshman David Platt is the scheduled starting pitcher. He has pitched 7 2/3 innings this season out of the bullpen with a 4.70 ERA. First pitch is at 4:05 p.m. at Bart Kaufman Field.

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