Coming off a home-opening day win against Miami University on Tuesday, Indiana baseball traveled to the Queen City to face Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri, in a three-game series over the weekend.
The Hoosiers dropped the opening game against the Bears on Friday, but turned around the series with improved batting to win the final two games of the series on Saturday and Sunday.
In Friday’s opener, Indiana freshman Josh Pyne hit a double with the bases loaded in the second inning to give the team an early two-run lead. Later in the same inning, graduate student Tyler Doanes grounded out into a fielder's choice to bring home the Hoosiers’ third run.
Indiana scratched two more runs across before the fifth inning, with Bobby Whalen scoring on a double play by Morgan Colopy in the third and a misplayed ball by the Missouri State infield in the fourth. The Hoosiers seemed to be in control of the first game, but the Bears strung together seven runs in the fifth inning to steal the lead.
A three-run home run by Missouri State junior Mason Greer cut Indiana’s lead to two, and a bases-loaded RBI single followed by a walk helped the Bears tie the game at 5-5. Senior Mason Hull then broke the deadlock with a two-run single, handing the Bears a lead they wouldn’t give back.
Indiana continued to leave runners on base, stranding seven teammates en route to the 9-7 loss Friday.
Although the Hoosiers dropped the first game of the series, their bats stayed hot for the rest of the weekend. In Saturday’s game, the team scored 12 runs to tie the series at 1-1.
Indiana’s comeback effort in the series came through another dominant first-inning on Saturday. The Hoosiers drove in five runs in the first inning and two in the second to jump ahead 7-0.
Ellis led Indiana with seven RBIs in the second game. Freshman Brock Tibbitts led the Hoosiers in hits, finishing 4-for-5 at the plate for a quarter of the team’s 16 total hits, the most in a single game this season. Missouri State only recorded four hits on the night alongside three errors.
Head coach Jeff Mercer said he was happy with the approach the Hoosiers had at the plate in their win Saturday.
“The ability to have a long at bat, the ability to work into a court that we can manage is great, but we also be aggressive with pitches that we can hit,” Mercer said. “The guys did an awesome job competing, extending at bats and (putting balls) in play.”
Senior Bradley Brehmer, who transferred over from Wright State University in the offseason, started his first game as a Hoosier in Sunday’s series-clinching victory. Brehmer earned his first win of the season after a six-inning, three-earned runs performance.
Indiana’s offense didn’t let Brehmer’s debut go to waste, scoring 10 runs to secure its first series victory of the season. The Hoosiers’ bats gave Brehmer a big lead to work with from the start, scoring six runs in the first inning.
The key to Indiana’s success over the weekend were fast starts, as the team Indiana scored 11 combined runs in the first inning between the final two games of the series.
The Hoosiers brought in 31 runs over the three-day span. Next, the Hoosiers will face the University of Cincinnati and Purdue University Fort Wayne on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, for a two-game home stand in Bloomington.