In its opening weekend, IU baseball struggled to create any momentum at the plate as it was playing its first games in about a year. Now, the cobwebs seem to be shaken off, and IU is starting to score runs in bunches.
IU took two of three games against Purdue this weekend at home in Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington. Although the first game was a low-scoring 2-1 affair, the final two games were the opposite. The Hoosiers lost the second game 8-5, but won the final game 9-4. Active head coach Dan Held said he was proud of the team’s improved hitting throughout the weekend.
“We stayed the course,” Held said. “Even when it got to two strikes, I felt like we did a really good job of making adjustments. It was a good team effort.”
IU trailed 1-0 for almost all of the opening game against Purdue, but clutch hitting in the bottom of the eighth inning from freshman infielder Paul Toetz and redshirt senior catcher Jacob Southern gave the Hoosiers the lead. Sophomore right hander Matt Litwicki got the save in the ninth for the Hoosiers, who are now 4-1 in games decided by two runs or less this season.
“We kept grinding,” Held said after Friday’s 2-1 win. “Things just weren’t going our way and there were some tough conditions out there. But like I told the guys, you just keep battling.”
In the final two games of the series, IU’s hitting led the way. Toetz had another strong game in Saturday’s 8-5 loss, recording two hits and two RBIs. In Sunday’s series finale, sophomore outfielder Grant Richardson had his best game of the weekend, jacking a solo home run to center field and singling home a runner in the eighth inning as well.
“We never like losing to Purdue,” senior infielder Justin Houston said after Sunday’s win. “There was a bad taste in our mouth. We had a little beating before. We came back, handled our business and played together.”
Now at 9-2 on the season, IU will travel to East Lansing next weekend to take on a struggling Michigan State team in a three-game series. The Spartans are 5-6 and have lost their last two games to Illinois and Michigan.
As it currently stands, IU and Michigan are tied atop the Big Ten standings at 9-2. However, Michigan could move into first with a win today over Michigan State. The Hoosiers and Wolverines are scheduled to face off for the first time this season May 14.