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Sunday, Dec. 10
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

COLUMN: Maryland looked unbeatable. It’s time to regroup for Indiana baseball


Indiana baseball was swept in three games at home this past weekend for the first time since the 2011 season. That’s also the first time that’s happened at the team’s newest, and current, stadium, Bart Kaufman Field, which opened in 2013.  

Maryland looked unbeatable.  

​​Before the series, Indiana and Maryland were separated by just one game in the Big Ten standings — the Hoosiers in first place at 9-3 — the Terrapins at 8-4. Neither team had lost any of their four conference series this season, while Indiana managed to sweep one.  

Just last season, the Hoosiers became the first eight-seed in Big Ten Tournament history to eliminate the one-seed, which was Maryland last May. Now, the teams seemingly met as equals. Maryland won Friday’s game 13-2, Saturday 16-2, and Sunday’s finale, 14-8.  

Yes, Maryland outscored Indiana 29-4 to clinch the series. The Terrapins produced 40 runs total in two-midweek wins — albeit they faced now-No. 100-plus ranked teams in the rating percentage index — yet, nevertheless exhibited their lineup's expertise and capability.  

That persisted into the weekend. The defending Big Ten regular-season champs tallied 50 hits and nine home runs across three games. Junior shortstop Matt Shaw and senior infielder Nick Lorusso set the tone for the weekend with back-to-back home runs to begin Friday’s contest.  

Maryland starting pitchers senior Nick Dean and freshman Kyle McCoy totaled 14 innings, allowing three runs, in the first two games. Even as Indiana plated seven runs against Sunday starter, junior Jason Savacool, the Terps pounced on Indiana’s sophomore starter Ryan Kraft, and basically every reliever after that, surging for seven runs across the final three innings.  

Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer said postgame Sunday, that when speaking with Maryland's head coach Rob Vaughn before the game, Vaughn revealed that his team rarely perfected a well-rounded series performance, though they're always capable. Maryland dominated, continuously conveying that swagger, though Indiana competed well Sunday.   

Indiana will likely be absent from future regional hosting predictions. It’ll likely be at least some time before the Hoosiers reemerge into Baseball America’s top-25 poll, or surface on D1Baseball’s top-25 poll for the first time this season. But really, does that matter? 

Indiana had won seven-straight series before playing Maryland. The team reached 30 victories by April 23 this year, only winning 27 all of last season — including the postseason. The Hoosiers should, and likely will, still be featured in NCAA Tournament projections. This year probably will mark Indiana’s first appearance in the NCAA postseason since 2019. In program history, Indiana has appeared nine times in the NCAA Tournament.   

Yes, Indiana plummeted in the RPI, but is barely out of first place in the conference. Luckily for the Hoosiers, they won’t see Maryland for the remainder of the regular season. The conference race now is a nine-game sprint, with Indiana just two games back from first.  

Maryland played exceptionally well this weekend, and the sweep may slingshot them to win the regular season. They were projected to do so. The bulk of Indiana’s lineup is young, and the team wasn’t close to chasing the first place team in the conference by this time last year.  

Now, they have that chance. If losses continue to pile at Northwestern next weekend, which is positioned last in the conference, that’ll badly diminish Indiana’s RPI, maybe starting the discussion of late-season collapse. For now, It’s just one gloomy weekend.  

The Terrapins were flawless, from pitchers having great days, to their lineup that’d crush any pitch that missed its intended spot. Indiana botched this weekend, especially with the advantage of playing the Terps at home, but haven’t struck out quite yet. There’s still time.  

Facing Maryland’s lineup likely will refine Indiana’s pitching staff. It’s cruel, but beneficial. Indiana began the year going 3-6 at Auburn, Texas, and the Keith LeClair Classic, which featured then-No. 9 Eastern Carolina. From there, the Hoosiers won seven straight series.  

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