After losing its first game in 359 days, the IU baseball team won three straight games against Minnesota and Rutgers to cap off a successful opening weekend in Minneapolis, going 3-1 to start the season.
Despite outhitting the Scarlet Knights in its opening game 5-3, IU’s offense couldn’t overcome sophomore pitcher Gabe Bierman giving up five walks to Rutgers in 4.0 innings of work, and IU lost 2-1.
Freshman relief pitcher John Modungo kept IU in the game, pitching four hitless innings in relief of Bierman. IU batters struck out 13 times on Friday afternoon, including five of the final six outs as Rutgers closer redshirt freshman Brian Fitzpatrick locked down the save for the Scarlet Knights.
In IU’s second game Friday, junior pitcher Tommy Sommer was dominant against Minnesota. He pitched eight scoreless innings, allowed only two hits and matched his career-high 10 strikeouts. The Hoosiers had 10 hits and won 5-2 over the Golden Gophers.
Infielder Jordan Fucci had two hits with three RBIs, including a two-out, two-run homerun in the third inning that extended IU’s lead to 3-0. IU went 6-of-15 (.400) with two outs in its first game against Minnesota.
IU’s third game of the weekend was another gem from IU’s starting rotation, as sophomore McCade Brown picked up a 4-2 win Saturday night against Rutgers, avenging its loss on Friday. Brown only allowed one run on three hits. His dozen strikeouts and seven innings pitched were both career highs.
His 12 strikeouts were also the most for an IU pitcher since Andrew Saalfrank had 14 against the University of Evansville on April 13, 2019. Freshman outfielder Morgan Colopy hit a home run in his first career college game, extending the Hoosiers’ lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the sixth.
In the final game of the weekend on Sunday night, IU again had a great outing from its starting pitcher, with redshirt freshman Ty Bothwell striking out 10 batters in his first career start.
However, the story of the night was IU’s bats exploding for 13 hits in an 8-1 victory. Preseason All-American sophomore outfielder Grant Richardson had three doubles on the night, scoring twice. Freshman Paul Toetz hit a two-out, two-run homer in the top of the first inning to give Bothwell a lead before he even took the mound. Junior Drew Ashley, who was batting leadoff, hit a home run to extend his on-base streak to 29 straight games dating back to 2019.
On the weekend, IU’s pitching staff held its opponents to seven total runs, posting an ERA of 1.80 as a group while recording 50 strikeouts in 35 innings pitched.
IU returns home to play Penn State next weekend in another four game series, its first games at Bart Kaufman Stadium in over a year.