Indiana baseball lost its four-game home series against Xavier University this past weekend at Bart Kaufman Field in Bloomington, Indiana. After falling in the first two games on Thursday and Saturday, Indiana won the first game of the Sunday doubleheader before losing the finale.
Splitting the doubleheader resulted in a missed opportunity for the Hoosiers to split the series. Instead, Indiana lost its third series of the season.
Indiana’s three losses came in high-scoring slugfests, where its offense supplied enough runs, but Xavier's offensive prowess over Indiana's pitching staff led to multiple losses.
The two teams combined to score 74 runs throughout the series.
Indiana junior pitcher right-hander Jack Perkins started the series opener Thursday and threw six innings while striking out a career-high nine batters. Perkins allowed two earned runs in his third consecutive quality start.
"(Perkins) executed a bunch of different pitches and velocity was good," head coach Jeff Mercer said after Thursday's game. "He's been getting better each and every week. He's been terrific."
Freshman Josh Pyne gave Indiana the lead with a two-run home run to left field in the bottom of the sixth inning directly after Perkins finished his outing. However, Xavier's offense pounced on Indiana's bullpen after Perkins' exit, scoring seven runs in the final three innings to eventually win Thursday’s game 9-7.
Indiana senior pitcher right-hander Braydon Tucker made his first start since 2020 when the series resumed on Saturday and allowed four earned runs in four innings. Tucker pitched back-to-back perfect innings after Xavier scored in the first inning. However, Xavier answered with three runs in the top of the fourth inning to take an early 4-0 lead.
The Musketeers extended their lead to 12-0 by the middle of the sixth inning. Indiana managed to rally and score 10 unanswered runs, including junior Matthew Ellis' conference-best 10th home run, a two-run, 441-foot shot over the right-field wall.
However, the Hoosiers couldn't build off Ellis’ electrifying blast and lost by two runs for the second time in three days. Indiana has struggled to win close games throughout the season, and is 0-8 in contests decided by three runs or fewer.
Indiana's offense and pitching finally synchronized in its first victory of the series in the first game of the doubleheader on Sunday.
Senior pitcher right-hander Bradley Brehmer hurled a season-high seven innings in his second quality start this year and held Xavier to just three runs in Indiana’s 13-3 victory.
“Brad was terrific,” Mercer said. “(He) located a fastball (on) both sides of the plate, threw a change up both sides of the plate, landed his slider and a curveball. He was outstanding, and a start that we had to have.”
The Hoosiers’ bullpen backed up Brehmer and held the Musketeers scoreless, while the Hoosiers batters totaled 13 hits and three home runs. Sophomore Bobby Whalen was one of the three Hoosiers to hit a home run, his first of the season in the second inning.
After being credited with creating the "answering the call" celebration, he finally picked up the imaginary phone after touching home plate surrounded by his teammates near the dugout.
However, Indiana lost its masterful combination of hitting and pitching in the second game of the doubleheader. Freshman starter Ryan Kraft was pulled out of the game after allowing four earned runs before the end of the first inning.
“You got a couple of quality starts this weekend, today the second game (of the doubleheader) wasn’t one of them,” Mercer said. “You’ve had three starts in one week that went one inning or less. It’s disqualifying when that happens.”
Similarly to Saturday’s game, Xavier's bats were rolling after taking an early 4-0 lead. The Musketeers finished with three extra-base hits, including a grand slam and a three-run home run.
Indiana outfielder Carter Mathison hit his second home run of the day in the fourth inning and three base hits from other Hoosiers scored four runs in the fifth, but it wasn't enough to overcome the deficit.
With the loss, Indiana falls to 8-12 on the season and has lost six of its last eight games. The Hoosiers entered the weekend with a flawless 4-0 record at home, which now has dropped to 5-3.
Indiana's next opportunity to bounce back is against Indiana State University at home on Tuesday. First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m.