It’s been a streaky season thus far for IU baseball, and the team currently finds itself riding one of the bad streaks. After winning eight straight games from March 5 to March 19, IU has since lost five straight, including getting swept in four games by Ohio State last weekend.
Getting swept is an unfamiliar feeling for IU, which hasn’t been in that position since it lost all three games to the University of Tennessee back in February 2019.
“Other than that , the program and the kids haven’t experienced losing,” head coach Jeff Mercer said. “We emotionally lost control [last Saturday]. Ultimately that’s my responsibility as the coach to prepare them better than that.”
Up next for IU is a three-game homestand against Illinois, marking IU’s first home game since March 21. Mercer said his team has the ability to get things back on track this weekend.
“I watched us be a really fundamentally sound team for weeks,” Mercer said. “And I’ve watched us be the opposite of that this past weekend. You don’t lose that. Physically, you don’t lose the ability to pick up a ground ball.”
Mercer also called this Tuesday’s practice his team’s best practice of the season and said it was a “reckoning.” He said the team had a poor week of practice leading up to the Ohio State series last weekend.
Hitting will be a big point of emphasis for the Hoosiers this weekend after scoring only seven runs last weekend. IU was also an abysmal 3-of-30 with runners in scoring position against Ohio State. Mercer said the team should make sure it controls its emotions and grows in the moment.
“If you look at how a game should operate, you should get better offensively as the game goes because you obviously have more information to draw from,” Mercer said. “When you’re in a place where it’s hard for you to rationally slow down and comprehend it, it seems much more difficult than it really is.”
Illinois comes in at 8-10 with only one series win so far this season, defeating Minnesota from March 12-14. Illinois is 10th in the conference, three games behind fourth-placed IU.
“They [Illinois] are a super organized and diligent group,” Mercer said. “If we make mistakes, they’re not going to give you the game.”