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Wednesday, May 29
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Indiana baseball sweeps Bellarmine in four games with 3-2 Sunday victory

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Indiana baseball's brooms themselves required dusting. The Hoosiers' last three-or-more-game sweep over an opponent happened on April 25, 2021 — almost two years ago in the Big Ten conference-only COVID-19 schedule. Indiana didn’t sweep any team in 2022.  

But, on Sunday, infielders freshman Tyler Cerny and sophomore Brock Tibbitts completed the game-sealing play in Indiana's 3-2 victory over Bellarmine University — solidifying Indiana's four-game sweep. With the tying run at third base, Cerny slid, back-handed the ground ball and fired a one-hopper to Tibbitts, who acrobatically scooped the ball just in time. 

Cerny had already made two difficult plays earlier in the game Sunday. The first: an off-balance throw on a weakly hit grounder in the sixth inning. The second: charging a high-hit chopper in the eighth, tagging the lead runner and almost turning an unassisted double play.  

"I've always prided myself on the defensive side of the ball," Cerny said postgame. "I've always had a great glove growing up. I just really worked on in practice all those plays like the sliding play. It's my favorite play to make. So whenever I get that one, I'm gonna make it." 

Cerny's first two tosses to first base didn't hit the turf, but the game-ending sliding grab-and-throw did. Of course, Tibbitts deserves half the credit for that scoop. Cerny hugged Tibbitts in the high-five line postgame, likely saying thanks.  

"You get scared when you throw it like that," Cerny said. “But when you have Brock Tibbitts over at first base, you feel more relaxed, like he's going to pick that ball. I have so much confidence in Brock throwing the ball over there."  

Indiana won via comeback 5-3 Thursday, 9-7 Friday and thrashed Bellarmine 13-3 Saturday. Trailing 3-0 entering the ninth inning, the Knights scored two runs, threatening to come from behind and return the favor. However, Indiana sophomore reliever Ryan Kraft, aided by Indiana's infield, earned his fifth save of the season — Kraft's third in four games.  

"I'd rather not play close games," Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer said postgame. "But if you do, the ability to have some resiliency and have some toughness and have some nerves there at the end to pull them out. So it was nice. I'm really happy for them."  

At the stretch, Indiana led 1-0 in Sunday's pitchers’ duel. Indiana junior right-hander Seti Manase hurled 4⅓ scoreless innings, striking out seven. Manase exited on 69 pitches right before the third time facing Bellarmine's lineup. Identical to Thursday's win, freshman Evan Whiteaker threw 2⅔ scoreless innings in relief.  

"Their leadoff guy (Reed Blaszczyk) was their engine, and he could really hit," Mercer said. "He hit the home run (Saturday). It's a 1-run game at that point. We're not going to give (Blaszczyk) a third time. Statistically speaking, he's 0-for-2 at that point. He's due to get Seti. I didn't want to want to give up a 2-run homer, and then spoil a really good outing."  

Bellarmine left-handed starter Gavin Braunecker tossed 6⅓ innings, striking out six. The two runners Braunecker left on base before his mid-seventh-inning exit eventually scored, extending Indiana’s lead to 3-0.  

Senior catcher Matthew Ellis, who received days off Friday and Saturday battling an illness, began Indiana's seventh-inning rally by lining a base hit. Junior outfielder Sam Murrison entered to pinch-run, daringly going first-to-third on Cerny's third hit of the game. Cerny and Murrison ultimately scored, adding two insurance runs, which proved the decider.  

“It really does set us up nicely for us as we move forward that you know you've got the toughness to play and win in those games,” Mercer said.  

Following the four-game sweep, including Sunday’s narrow finish, the Hoosiers won every game of their five-game home-stand this week. The team's season continues Tuesday on the road for one game at the University of Kentucky. The first pitch is set for 5 p.m. and will be available to watch on SEC Network+. 

Follow reporters Matthew Byrne (.@MatthewByrne1) and Nick Rodecap (.@nickrodecap) for updates throughout the Indiana baseball season.

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