About an hour after Indiana baseball's 5-3 comeback victory over Bellarmine University Thursday, pitching machines revved in the indoor hitting facility at Bart Kaufman Field. Redshirt sophomore outfielder Morgan Colopy stood in the batting cage, holding his bat.
"WE LIVE IT" is painted on one wall of the hitting facility. The message "do your job" is written on the door, which leads directly to the field. Colopy didn't get an at-bat in Thursday's win but wanted to ensure he was ready to go, practicing driving fastballs to the middle of the field.
Colopy started Friday's game out in right field, the second game of the four-game series against Bellarmine. Indiana quickly went down 3-0 in the top of the first inning. The Knights tallied three extra-base hits against Indiana senior starter Ben Seiler. Indiana's deficit extended to 7-3 by the end of the third. Like Thursday, however, the Hoosiers clawed back.
Entering Friday's game, Colopy's batting average was .087 — 2-for-23 at the plate. Yet, the outfielder's single in the fourth inning cut Bellarmine's lead to three runs. During the fifth, Colopy's bases-loaded go-ahead hit gave the Hoosiers an 8-7 lead, their first of the game.
Where did Colopy's base hit land? Up the middle — just like he said he had practiced.
"With this team, I feel like no lead is safe for an opponent," Colopy said postgame. "We're so tough all the way through. We started off down and felt strong."
In another comeback, Indiana held on 9-7, as sophomore reliever Ryan Kraft earned back-to-back saves on two consecutive nights. And, in back-to-back games, Indiana’s freshman relievers entered mid-inning high-leverage situations, shutting down Bellarmine's lineup.
On Thursday, Indiana freshman Brayden Risedorph threw four innings in his first career start — Bellarmine’s lone run was unearned. Sophomore Cooper Hellman relieved Risedorph for the fifth. Hellman gave up four consecutive one-out hits, as Bellarmine led 3-0. Hellman was pulled as freshman right-hander Evan Whiteaker entered, forcing two pop-outs, and stranding two runners in scoring position. Indiana scored five unanswered runs to win 5-3.
On Friday, starter Ben Seiler lasted less than two innings — Bellarmine charged four runs to the left-hander's earned run average. Sophomore reliever Adrian Vega allowed three runs to begin the top of the third as Bellarmine went up 7-2.
Freshman right-hander Aydan Decker-Petty — who tossed his first career strikeout in Wednesday’s 15-1 victory over Purdue University Fort Wayne — relieved Vega with one out. Decker-Petty recorded the last two outs of the top of the third to strand one runner in scoring position. Indiana went on to score seven unanswered runs. Decker-Petty, senior right-hander Craig Yoho, and Kraft threw six and two-thirds scoreless innings combined, striking out 11.
"I'm thrilled that they're freshmen, so you have those guys for a period of time, and you can build around those guys as a core group," Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer said postgame. "I could not be happier, especially for Aydan Decker-Petty today, my goodness, to have his first outing this week and then to be put in that situation, and to do so well is super exciting."
Mercer admitted that his team lacked fundamentals Thursday. Pair that with facing Bellarmine senior starter Nolan Pender's below-two earned run average, and it's not shocking Indiana's bats went cold. On Friday, however, Mercer said he thought Bellarmine played outstanding in the first three innings. Bellarmine had six extra-base hits by the time Decker-Petty entered.
"When somebody else plays well, you have to tip your cap a little bit and then find a way to fight back into the ballgame," Mercer said. "With what little hair I have left, I would rather not have to be in those positions. But they're great lessons to learn. We've (come back) I think, four times now. So, that is a great quality to have about a group that's tough and resilient.”
Indiana's two victories clinch at least the split of the four-game series. For the remaining two games, the Hoosiers are set to host Bellarmine at 2 p.m. Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday.