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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Indiana baseball kicks off season with three-game weekend at Myrtle Beach


Following a 2023 campaign that defied expectations and saw Indiana baseball advance to an NCAA Regional, head coach Jeff Mercer and the Hoosiers feel they can be among the nation’s best this season. 

To do that, they need to compete with the upper echelon of teams. This weekend’s “Baseball at the Beach” tournament in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, will offer a chance for the Hoosiers to do so. 

They’ll square off with three teams who made last year’s NCAA Tournament, two of which are nationally ranked. Here’s everything to know about Indiana’s opponents: 

Game 1: Friday vs. No. 12 Duke University (11 a.m.) 

Mercer confirmed Wednesday sophomore righty Brayden Risedorph will get the start on the mound in the season opener. Duke advanced to a Super Regional last year and nearly punched its ticket to the College World Series, but its lineup is heavily altered going into this season. 

The Blue Devils lost four highly productive starters, with corner infielders Luke Storm and Andrew Fischer transferring and middle infielders Jay Beshears and Alex Mooney moving on to the majors.  

Duke’s projected lineup could feature a whopping six newcomers, but it does return a pair of potent hitters in sophomore outfielder Tyler Albright and senior catcher Alex Stone. Albright and Stone batted .312 and .315 respectively last season, and Stone hit a team-high 17 bombs and 62 RBIs. 

While the Blue Devils’ bats are a relative question mark, their arms are proven. 

Junior lefty and Baseball America Preseason All-American Jonathan Santucci will start against Indiana. The ace of the Blue Devils’ staff, Santucci went 2-2 with a 4.30 ERA in 2023 before suffering a season-ending elbow injury in late March. 

Still, Santucci is regarded as a surefire MLB prospect with first-round upside. With a heavy dose of left-handed bats in the Hoosiers’ lineup — featuring sluggers like sophomore Devin Taylor and junior Carter Mathison — Indiana will be seriously challenged in its first game of the season. 

Game 2: Saturday vs. No. 18 Coastal Carolina University (3 p.m.) 

The Hoosiers won’t get a break from stiff competition in game two. Coastal Carolina hosted an NCAA Regional last year after an impressive campaign marked by an overwhelming offensive attack. 

As a team, Coastal Carolina batted .311, the 15th best mark in the nation. Led by a pair of catchers in sophomore Caden Bodine and junior Derek Bender, the Chanticleers return the bulk of their offensive production. 

Bodine and Bender hit .367 and .341, respectively, combining for 30 homers and 130 RBIs. With the tandem back in the top half of the lineup, Indiana’s pitchers will be tasked with taming two extremely powerful bats.

While Coastal Carolina will be without stalwarts Payton Eeles — the team’s leading hitter last year — and Nick Lucky, it still is capable of scoring runs in bunches and wearing out bullpens. But unlike Duke, the Chanticleers are more of an unknown on the mound. 

Junior righty Alexander Meckley, a junior college transfer, is Coastal Carolina’s confirmed starter for Saturday. Much of the Chanticleers’ pitching will be reliant on newcomers and players taking a significant step forward, making their level of talent difficult to project. 

Last season, Coastal Carolina ranked 118th in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings with 9.55. Granted, the Chanticleers placed 16th in strikeouts per nine innings with 10.4, but their combined ERA of 6.25 checked in at 176th. 

If Indiana can limit the explosion of Bodine and Bender and the rest of Coastal Carolina’s lineup, its own bats could get the best of Meckley and the Chanticleers' bullpen. 

Game 3: Sunday vs. George Mason University (11 a.m.) 

Indiana’s final game of the tournament comes against a George Mason squad that won the Atlantic 10 Conference Championship and advanced to an NCAA Regional in 2023. The Patriots’ 36 wins were their most since 2009. 

Last season’s Atlantic 10 Pitcher of the Year Chad Gartland headlines the swath of returning contributors for George Mason. Across 98 1/3 innings, Gartland boasted a 3.39 ERA and notched seven wins to just two losses. 

The Patriots return seven of their nine regular members of the lineup, including leader hitters in senior South Trimble and junior Reece Woody. Trimble and Woody hit .335 and .313, respectively, combining for 84 RBIs. 

While not the most powerful array of bats, the Patriots stole 164 bases in 2023, good for third best in all of Division 1 baseball. It remains to be seen who will start on the mound for both sides, but the Hoosiers’ dynamic lineup could prove a tough challenge against the Patriots’ arms. 

Follow reporters Matt Press (@MattPress23) and Nick Rodecap (@nickrodecap) for updates throughout the Indiana baseball season.

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