Indiana baseball finishes up its eight-game homestand with a weekend series against Ohio State. This weekend’s slate includes a 4 p.m. first pitch on Friday, 1 p.m. start on Saturday and a noon matinee on Sunday.
The Hoosiers are coming off a midweek 15-5 victory over Indiana State University and a sweep of the Morehead State University Eagles. Indiana holds a 14-7 record and has won five games in a row.
They are 0-2 against ranked opponents, with double-digit losses against No. 9 Eastern Carolina University and No. 23 University of Kentucky. Hoosier head coach Jeff Mercer said the non-conference games the team has played have served as tune-ups for Big Ten play.
“When you go against (Indiana State), you know they’re going to be talented, well-coached, offensive, and we were just able to get them (in) one inning. It helps a ton to be able to play against good opponents,” Mercer said on Tuesday.
The inning referenced was an 11-run seventh inning that was the difference in the Hoosiers’ win over Indiana State Tuesday night. Prior to the bottom of the seventh, the game was tied 4-4.
“We go into the fray this weekend,” Mercer said. “With the way we were able to compete over the last few weeks and find ways to win, be tough, and then find a way to blow that thing open late, it bodes well.”
Mercer said now that conference play is beginning, everything starts over.
“You start 0-0,” he said. “The whole season begins anew. Everything you did before that doesn’t matter outside of the lessons you learned along the way.”
Mercer said Ohio State has played really well this season and noted the performance of their starting pitching as well as their offense’s ability to hit for batting average. Last year, the Buckeyes hit over .300 in Big Ten games, and Mercer said he expects that trend to continue.
The Buckeyes are 12-7 this season, including an 8-3 win over Mississippi State University and a 3-0 loss to Wright State University. They have not played against any ranked opponents this season.
Ohio State has five players with batting averages over .300 and they are led by junior outfielder Kade Kern. He is among the team’s leaders in extra-base hits and leads the Buckeyes with four home runs and seven stolen bases.
Ohio State junior left-handed pitcher Isaiah Coupet and sophomore righty George Eisenhardt have posted outstanding numbers on the mound this season. Both starting pitchers have earned-run averages under 2 and have held opponents to a batting average under .200. Coupet leads the team with 38 strikeouts over 25 innings pitched. These numbers translate to lots of swings and misses with two strikes.
“We’re ready to go,” Mercer said. “It’s going to be a dogfight.”
The series begins at 4 p.m. on Friday, two hours earlier than initially scheduled. All three games will be available to watch on Big Ten Plus.