Indiana Daily Student

IU baseball splits games against San Diego in doubleheader Saturday

<p>Junior Elijah Dunham prepares to catch the ball at first base March 7 at Bart Kaufman Field. IU won the first game Saturday 9-2 and lost the second game 6-2 against the University of San Diego.</p>

Junior Elijah Dunham prepares to catch the ball at first base March 7 at Bart Kaufman Field. IU won the first game Saturday 9-2 and lost the second game 6-2 against the University of San Diego.

IU baseball went 1-1 in its doubleheader Saturday to open its weekend series against the University of San Diego at Bart Kaufman Field.

The Hoosiers won the first game 9-2 and lost the second game 6-2. Their record is now 8-4 for the season.

IU head coach Jeff Mercer said the team played the two games in completely different ways.

“The game rewards toughness and rewards consistency,” Mercer said. “And so we have to be consistent, and when we’re not, it’s a really tough game to win.”

San Diego’s pitchers struggled in the first game.Five pitchers walked 11 IU batters, and five scored. 

The Hoosiers started off slow offensively in the first game but heated up toward the end of the game. They hit three back-to-back doubles in the seventh inning, earning two runs and bringing the score to 6-2. Their lead widened to 9-2 in the eighth inning when sophomore outfielder Grant Richardson hit a triple to clear the loaded bases.

Junior infielder Cooper Trinkle had a successful day of batting. He went 3-4 from the plate in the first game, knocking in an RBI double in the fourth inning. He was one of the four players to get a hit in the second game and the only player to hit more than once.

The Toreros’ pitchers performed better in the second game with a combined strikeout count of 13. Starting pitcher freshman Carter Rustad struck out five batters in a row in the third and fourth innings. He struck out nine batters in the game and didn’t allow a hit until the seventh inning, when Richardson singled to center field. 

The Hoosiers were unable to keep up the momentum Richardson started. Junior Elijah Dunham hit a double in the seventh inning, which brought Richardson home to score the Hoosiers' first run of the game. San Diego sophomore pitcher Kohl Simas loaded the bases after Dunham’s hit, but both freshman outfielder Hunter Jessee and senior catcher Collin Hopkins struck out and stranded the three runners on base. 

The team left two more runners on base in the eighth inning when Dunham popped up to the second baseman. Senior infielder Jordan Fucci hit a solo home run in the ninth inning, the first IU homer at Bart Kaufman Field this year. But a subsequent fly ball to left field and a double play ended any attempt at a rally.

Mercer said he was disappointed the team didn’t adapt its playing style to get more hits.

“There’s so many opportunities that are presented over the course of 27 outs,” Mercer said. “You have to force them to work in your favor. And we’ve done that over and over again throughout the course of the season to this point, and the second game was the first time where we haven’t.”

IU managed to stall San Diego’s offensive efforts until late in the second game. Junior catcher Adam Kerner hit a solo home run for San Diego in the eighth inning to bring the score to 3-1. The team then scored three runs in the ninth inning, one of which was unearned.

In the first game, IU’s pitching kept San Diego from scoring big. Sophomore Gabe Bierman pitched 6 1/3 innings, striking out five batters and reaching a pitch count of 99. Senior pitcher Braden Scott only allowed one hit when he relieved Bierman for the remainder of the game.

San Diego and IU will play the last game of the series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

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