The IU baseball team bounced back from a five-game losing streak this past weekend, picking up two much-needed wins against Illinois. The team accomplished this with a combined no-hitter and five total home runs in the rain-shortened series. This weekend, IU will take on Illinois’ cross-state rival Northwestern in Evanston.
The Wildcats lead the conference with 45 home runs. They are also second in total hits behind the Illini, who couldn’t find their rhythm against sophomore pitchers McCade Brown and reigning Big Ten Pitcher of the Week Braydon Tucker, who pitched the final four innings of IU’s no-hitter on Saturday.
“Braydon has been a really good pitcher for us in the past,” head coach Jeff Mercer said Wednesday. “As his velocity continues to increase, he’s played a much more significant role. He’ll be a guy we go to more and more as the season goes on.”
The Hoosiers still lead the conference in ERA, allowing less than three runs a game, and they have allowed a league-low 10 home runs on the season.
The most dangerous hitter in Northwestern’s lineup is junior shortstop Shawn Goosenberg. Goosenberg has 10 home runs on the season, the most in the conference, as well as the 11th-best batting average.
Last weekend against Rutgers, Goosenberg exploded for four home runs and eight hits in three games. In the first game, he walked it off with a shot to left center in the bottom of the 12th, and in the third, he hit a two-run blast to tie the game in the bottom of the ninth, during which Northwestern would lose in extras.
His performance earned him his second Big Ten Player of the Week honor in three weeks. As a team, Northwestern had nine home runs that accounted for 12 of its 15 total runs.
“You have to attack the holes in their swings,” Mercer said about stopping Northwestern’s lineup. “When in doubt, be able to locate the pitch that you’re able to locate to your profile, and the vast majority of the time you’ll have success.”
IU comes into the series at 13-7, third in the standings and 2.5 games back of Nebraska. Northwestern is 11-10, good for seventh in the standings, and four games off of the lead. The Wildcats have lost three straight series after winning their previous three, while the Hoosiers have lost only one series on the season, against Ohio State.