Indiana baseball fell in a three-game sweep on the road against Clemson University in its opening series of the season this past weekend. Clemson outscored Indiana 33-8, highlighted by its 19-4 victory in game two on Saturday to clinch the series with one game in hand.
More than a third of Clemson's 33 combined runs came freely from Indiana pitchers’ mistakes. The Hoosiers hindered themselves on the mound by allowing walks, hitting batters and throwing wild pitches with the bases loaded.
Eight walks, four wild pitches and one hit batter in Indiana’s series-opening 9-0 shutout loss on Friday put numerous Clemson base runners in scoring position who eventually reached home plate.
Indiana junior starter John Modugno hit and walked one batter in the fourth inning and later made a fielding error, allowing one run to score. Soon after, a wild pitch and another walk by Modugno set up Clemson to score its second run of the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly.
Clemson worked less to score more in the second game. The Tigers scored 10 of their runs on Saturday from walks, hit-batters and wild pitches with the bases loaded. In the sixth inning alone, Clemson scored seven runs with only two hits.
Junior starter Jack Perkins had a solid start for the Hoosiers, allowing three earned runs and striking out a career-high eight batters in three and 2/3 innings. However, Clemson pounced on Indiana's bullpen as the relievers gave up 14 earned runs after Perkins' exit. Two runs were charged to Perkins' earned run average after he left the game with two Clemson base runners in scoring position.
"We feel good about where we're at with the bullpen," head coach Jeff Mercer said at media availability Wednesday ahead of the series.
Senior Bradley Brehmer and graduate Joe Moran, two upperclassmen transfers, pitched back-to-back innings in relief for Indiana and allowed 10 earned runs on four hits, walked nine Clemson batters and hit three combined.
Indiana pitchers walked 36 Tigers and hit eight batters combined throughout the weekend. Almost half of the walks came in Saturday's loss.
Junior right-handed pitcher Nathan Stahl made his first career start for the Hoosiers on Sunday and pitched four innings, allowing three earned runs and walking four.
One of Stahl's walks came in the bottom of the third inning before Clemson sophomore Caden Grice hit a 413-foot home run to right field. The additional base runner provided Clemson with an extra run.
Indiana senior reliever Braydon Tucker entered the game in the seventh inning and walked in a run with the bases loaded to help Clemson tie the game 4-4. Clemson ultimately won in extra innings 5-4 on a walk-off sacrifice fly to secure the series sweep.
In a game that came down to the final pitches, the two additional free runs Indiana gave up significantly affected Sunday’s outcome. With Clemson’s two-run home run and bases-loaded walk in the seventh inning removed from the equation, a win in the series finale would have been more likely for Indiana.
Indiana drops to 0-3 to start the season after the three-game sweep. Still looking to earn their first win of 2022, the Hoosiers will travel to Oxford, Ohio, on Tuesday to face Miami University. Indiana’s starting pitcher for Tuesday’s matchup has not been announced.