Before Indiana baseball's 8-6 road victory at Xavier University Wednesday evening, senior left-hander Ty Bothwell hadn't pitched since April 25. Bothwell has been inactive lately — not utilized when Indiana was swept by Maryland at home two weekends ago, nor in the team's recent three-game sweep on the road at Northwestern this past weekend.
In Bothwell's season debut in February, the left-hander walked four batters in just over two innings. The senior threw one shutout inning 10 days later without any walks, but then-No. 9 East Carolina University greeted the senior in the first week of March — Bothwell didn't record an out as the first four batters he faced reached base. Three scored after his mid-inning exit.
In the first week of April, Bothwell walked four at Indiana State University, but wasn't charged with any earned runs. Bothwell's next outing was two weeks later at the University of Cincinnati. The senior entered from the bullpen, walked the first batter he faced and was promptly yanked from the game by Indiana head coach Jeff Mercer, throwing six pitches.
Bothwell appeared three times in March and April each. There's an outlier performance within that stretch, unlike most of Bothwell's outings this season, where the veteran has lacked command of his pitches. It was roughly two months ago, March 8, pitching against Purdue University Fort Wayne at home, Bothwell's first outing since allowing four runs at ECU.
Bothwell pitched his current season-high four innings, allowed just one earned run, walked two and struck out six Purdue Fort Wayne hitters. Bothwell had rebounded, but against the team that presently sits at No. 275 in Warren Nolan’s rating percentage index. Two outings later was Bothwell's four-walk performance April 4 at Indiana State, No. 7 in the RPI.
Wednesday, May 10, marked Bothwell's fifth appearance since that sufficient outing against Purdue Fort Wayne in March. In Bothwell's previous outing, April 25, Mercer pulled the senior after issuing back-to-back walks to begin the bottom half of the seventh inning. Upon exiting, Bothwell was later charged with those two runs, which eventually scored. Indiana won 9-8.
Nevertheless, Bothwell was well-rested to start Indiana's contest at Xavier, May 10, having not pitched in-game for two weeks. Xavier's ballpark, Hayden Field, is hitter-friendly with far shorter-distanced walls than Indiana's stadium. Yet, Bothwell tossed three innings — his longest outing since March 8 — allowed just one run, walked one batter and struck out four.
"Just couldn't be happier for Ty," Mercer said following Indiana's 8-6 win. "To see him laughing and smiling and engaged; that was the big win for the day for me."
By the time Bothwell exited Wednesday, Indiana led 5-1. Sophomore infielder Brock Tibbitts crushed two home runs in the same number of at-bats. Each home run cleared the tall netting just beyond the 310-foot left-field wall, landing on the nearby street up the hill. Between Tibbitts’ home runs, sophomore infielder Josh Pyne’s solo home run was his third of the year.
The Hoosiers and Musketeers traded two runs in the fourth inning. Indiana freshman infielder Tyler Cerny hit his eighth home run of the season to left-center field. In contrast, Xavier sophomore outfielder Teddy Deters knocked his second home of the season to right field.
Indiana right-handed reliever Connor Foley entered midway through the fifth inning, as Xavier had two runners on base with no outs. Indiana led 8-3. Despite an infield single that loaded the bases, Foley retired the next three batters in order, striking out two, to strand the three baserunners. The freshman likewise struck out two Musketeers in the scoreless sixth inning.
Indiana right-handed graduate Gabe Levy tossed the scoreless seventh inning. Upon Levy returning in the eighth, Deters once more drove in two runs to close Indiana's lead to 8-5. Freshman right-hander Brayden Risedorph entered for Levy. Though Xavier pinch-hitter Connor Misch's sacrifice fly cut the deficit to 8-6, Risedorph secured the five-out save.
That marked Risedorph's team-high tying fifth save of the year as Indiana won 8-6 over the Musketeers, positioned No. 52 in the RPI. Bothwell was credited with the individual win.
The senior operated in two different arm slots, while also rocking his body prior to hurling each pitch — newly implemented to his motion. In Indiana’s practice April 12, Bothwell was experimenting with his mechanics alongside pitching coach Dustin Glant and Mercer.
“If he has a little bit of rhythm, a little bit of movement, that keeps him from being static and straight and he feels better,” Mercer said. “Probably three or four weeks ago we started dabbling with different (arm) slots to something that he could feel confident with.”
Following Indiana’s 8-6 road win, the team’s record improves to 35-14 overall, moving up three spots to No. 31 in Warren Nolan’s RPI rankings. Indiana will resume conference play at home this weekend in a three-game series with Purdue spanning from Friday to Sunday.