Early in the season, lights out pitching was the story for the IU baseball team and its success. But the past two weekends, it has been the team’s hitting carrying it to victories.
In its last five games, four of which were wins, IU has scored a combined 28 runs. This was a major improvement from the eight combined runs it scored during its five-game losing streak from March 28 to April 4.
This weekend against Northwestern, IU won two of three in Evanston, Illinois. In Friday’s series opener, IU jumped out to a 5-0 lead through seven and a half innings, but Northwestern grabbed four back in the bottom of the seventh. Freshman right-hander Nathan Stahl and sophomore right-hander Matt Litwicki sealed the 5-4 win for the Hoosiers by pitching a combined two and two-thirds scoreless innings in relief.
On Saturday, it was the Wildcats who got out in front. After a solo home run to lead off the second inning by freshman infielder Vincent Bianchina, Northwestern knocked in two more by taking advantage of a two-out throwing error from IU.
After another solo home run from Bianchina in the third inning, the Hoosiers erased the four-run deficit in the fourth and fifth innings. Two-run homers from sophomore Tyler Van Pelt and junior Cole Barr pulled IU even.
A clutch two-out single from junior Drew Ashley in the top of the eighth gave IU the lead, though it was short-lived. Northwestern responded with four runs in the bottom of the eighth and went on to win 8-5.
Sunday’s rubber match was much less stressful for the Hoosiers, who cruised to a 4-0 victory thanks in large part to the work from right-hander Gabe Bierman. The sophomore from Jeffersonville, Indiana, tossed seven and two-thirds innings of scoreless baseball and only dealt with three baserunners all day.
The Hoosiers have now won four of five games after battling through a five-game losing streak to improve to 15-8 this season. Up next for IU is a three-game home series against Minnesota next weekend. The Hoosiers and Golden Gophers faced off twice on opening weekend in Minneapolis, and IU won both games by a combined margin of 10 runs.