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Tuesday, May 28
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Bothwell’s gem sets tone for Indiana baseball’s series win over Minnesota

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After a career-best start from graduate lefty Ty Bothwell helped secure a series-opening 7-1 victory on Saturday, Indiana baseball split a Sunday doubleheader with Minnesota to earn a series win in Minneapolis. 

The Hoosiers’ bullpen faltered and the bats fell quiet en route to a 13-2 loss in the first game of the doubleheader, but freshman Jasen Oliver notched eight RBIs — the most for an Indiana player since 1992 — to pave the way to an 18-8 victory to clinch the series. 

Indiana moved to 22-18 and 7-5 in the Big Ten with its third straight conference series win, and Minnesota dropped to 16-18 and 4-8 in conference play. 

On the mound 

As he’s been against Minnesota his entire college career, Bothwell was brilliant in the series opener Saturday afternoon, which was moved from Friday due to cold weather. 

Bothwell spun seven innings in Indiana’s win, surrendering just two hits, one run and striking out a career-high 13 batters. He joined the program’s 200 strikeout club and moved to eighth in team history with 205 across his five-year career.

In four career appearances against the Gophers, Bothwell has thrown 20 innings and given up just four hits while punching out 32. The Hebron, Indiana, native’s only damage of the outing came in the fifth inning off a solo homer from Minnesota sophomore Drew Berkland. 

Redshirt freshman Jacob Vogel closed out the final two frames in scoreless fashion to allow Indiana to coast to a dominant win, but its fortunes quickly changed in game one of Sunday’s doubleheader. 

Sophomore ace Connor Foley was the anticipated Indiana starter, but a team spokesperson said Foley was held out due to tightness in his back. 

The Hoosiers used five arms in the shortened seven inning defeat. Graduate righty Ty Rybarczyk got the start and worked three innings of three hit, three run ball, with the damage coming on Minnesota homers in the first and third innings. 

No Indiana reliever could tame the Gophers’ offense, and each of freshmen Ryan Rushing and Eli Shaw and junior Julian Tonghini gave up at least two runs apiece. Minnesota forced Rushing off after just one out in the fourth, and Tonghini could only finish the rest of the inning before his outing was done. 

Indiana’s bullpen has struggled mightily when starters haven’t gone deep into games, and Sunday’s first bout with the Gophers continued that trend. In the series finale, sophomore righty Brayden Risedorph couldn’t give the bullpen much more breathing room. 

Risedorph, who began the year as the No. 2 starter in the rotation, has seen most of his work coming toward the end of games. But on Sunday, Risedorph got the start and managed 3 2/3 innings, giving up three runs, six hits and striking out five. 

Graduate righty Drew Buhr, coming off his strongest outing of the year against Penn State, came in and produced a similar line as Risedorph. In 3 1/3 frames, Buhr gave up a pair of hits and three runs while issuing two walks and striking out three. 

After Buhr, sophomore righty Aydan Decker-Petty came on for the eighth and immediately surrendered a home run to Minnesota redshirt senior Kyle Bork. Decker-Petty only managed two outs in his appearance and gave up four hits and a pair of runs. 

Still, with Indiana’s high-flying offense performing as well as it has all season, the shotty bullpen performances were moot. Junior lefty Ryan Kraft came on to escape a bases-loaded jam in the eighth, and he closed the door in the ninth to secure the Hoosiers’ victory. 

At the plate 

Behind a terrific start from Bothwell, Indiana’s offense gave plenty of run support. Junior Nick Mitchell continued his hot form and opened the scoring on Saturday with a two-run double in the third, and the Hoosiers quickly added three runs in the fifth. 

In the next inning, junior Carter Mathison mashed his team-leading ninth homer of the year, the ninth-best mark in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers tallied 11 hits to the Gophers’ three, with multi-hit efforts coming from junior Josh Pyne, redshirt freshman Joey Brenczewski and freshman Cal Sefcik.  

Brenczewski, who smacked two doubles on Saturday, is swinging one of the hottest bats on the team. The first baseman is batting .346 and has 11 hits in his last five games. 

Like Indiana’s pitchers though, the hitters couldn’t replicate Saturday’s performance in game one of Sunday’s doubleheader. The Hoosiers loaded the bases in the top of the first, but the heart of the order couldn’t push a single run across. 

The Hoosiers again created an enticing opportunity with two outs and runners on second and third in the second inning, but Pyne flew out to end the frame. Brenczewski notched an RBI double in the sixth, but it was far too little too late as Indiana still trailed 12-1. 

Indiana tacked on another run off a sacrifice fly from Sefcik, but the Hoosiers’ two runs weren’t nearly enough to overcome the issues in the bullpen. However, the offense got off to a much better start in the second half of the doubleheader. 

With runners on first and second and one out in the top of the first, sophomore Tyler Cerny golfed a three-run homer to left field. The Hoosiers took a 5-3 lead into the fifth, and with the bases loaded, freshman Jasen Oliver ripped a two-run double. 

Oliver stayed hot in the seventh, and with runners on first and second, unleashed a three-run homer. Shortly after, sophomore Devin Taylor clobbered a two-run shot to center field to put Indiana up 13-3.

Even after the Gophers chipped into the lead and brought it to 13-8 in the eighth, Indiana exploded in the final frame. Taylor notched an RBI double, and after Mitchell drove in Taylor on a sacrifice fly, Oliver lined a three-run, bases clearing double to put the Hoosiers up 10. 

Indiana tallied a combined 17 hits in the affair, with every single member of the lineup recording a knock. Pyne, Taylor, Mitchell, Brenczewski, Oliver and redshirt junior Jake Stadler all had multi-hit games. 

Injury updates 

According to a team spokesperson, Foley’s back tightness isn’t expected to be serious. Given his hefty workload as the team’s ace this season — he’s third in the Big Ten in strikeouts with 65 — Foley needed time off and the hope is for the righty to be available next weekend against Rutgers. 

Freshman Andrew Wiggins was scratched from the lineup before game one of Sunday’s doubleheader and replaced by Sefcik in the designated hitter spot. The same team source said Wiggins hurt his wrist diving for a ball in pregame warmups, but like Foley, his absence was more precautionary. 

Junior catcher and first baseman Brock Tibbitts — who suffered a lower-body injury on April 2 against Indiana State University — remained sidelined against Minnesota. Tibbitts’ timetable to return is currently unknown as Stadler has taken over duties behind the plate. 

With the weekend series against the Gophers serving as further evidence of Indiana’s turbulent season, the path to postseason play remains narrow. Next, the Hoosiers take on Ball State University on Tuesday night at Victory Field in Indianapolis before hosting Rutgers over the weekend.

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

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