After 10 straight road games, Indiana baseball welcomed the Nebraska Cornhuskers for a three-game weekend series at Bart Kaufman Field. With a 8-7 opening win and a dominating 8-1 win in game two, the Hoosiers were able to secure their first Big Ten series win of the year and first series win since March 27.
Friday’s series opener saw Indiana take control early, and the team held its lead for all nine innings en route to an 8-7 win. The Hoosiers jumped out to a 7-0 lead after four innings, headlined by a three-run home run from freshman Josh Pyne. Pyne’s fifth home run this season gave Indiana a comfortable seven-run lead.
Nebraska’s bats remained quiet up until the seventh inning, when a single by senior Griffin Everitt opened up the scoring for the Cornhuskers. Sophomore Max Anderson cut down Indiana’s lead to just three runs after hitting his own three-run home run.
Senior Brayden Tucker added one more run in the eight inning. The Hoosiers held a four-run lead in the ninth inning but quickly found themselves in a close game just a few batters later.
Following a leadoff single, two runners got on base for Nebraska with sophomore Brice Matthews on deck. Matthews sent a home run over the left field wall to bring the game within one run, but Tucker struck out the final batter of the game to close out the first game of the series.
Saturday’s game started off in the Huskers favor, but momentum quickly shifted in favor of the Hoosiers. Freshman Core Jackson brought home the first run of the game for Nebraska with a RBI double in the first.
The opening run wouldn’t be followed up for the visitors as Indiana scored the ensuing eight runs. A five-run second inning gave the Hoosiers another early comfortable lead.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Indiana sophomore Bobby Whalen took matters into his own hands by extending the team’s lead with an RBI triple. Whalen later scored the final run of the game by stealing home plate, giving Indiana the 8-1 win and series victory with one game in hand.
In the final game of the series Sunday, the fast start came from Nebraska. Indiana dropped the third game by a score of 19-7, marking the most runs Indiana has allowed in a single game this season.
Nebraska’s offense stayed consistent all afternoon, scoring in eight of the nine innings. The Cornhuskers earned 20 total hits and scored 19 runs for their own personal season high.
Although Indiana fell in the series finale by 12 runs, the Hoosiers were still able to record their first Big Ten series win. Head coach Jeff Mercer said the team shouldn’t turn a positive into a negative.
“You win your series against a good team on your home field, that was the goal coming into it,” Mercer said. “You have to move on to Tuesday and Wednesday and then you try to win another conference series — you just have to move forward.”
Indiana now holds an overall record of 16-23 and is 4-8 in conference play. The Hoosiers will look toward its midweek matchups against Butler University and Illinois State University on April 26 and 27, respectively.
As the final month of Indiana’s schedule approaches, Mercer said he’s looking for his team to continue to improve.
“I want to see those young guys continue to grow up,” Mercer said. “Keep playing well offensively. Keep playing good defense, keep playing hard and and find a way to find yourself in the conference tournament and then it's anybody's week once you get there."