After giving up two straight hits to open the game, sophomore pitcher Kyle Hart gave up just two more the rest of the game, leading his team to victory and improving to 6-0 on the year.
"He's a very, very confident kid and very cerebral," IU Coach Tracy Smith said. "I got a lot of confidence in him and a lot of trust in him."
Hart and the rest of the IU pitching staff helped the team get the 5-2 win against Butler tonight. The Hoosiers (28-8) did not allow a single run in innings two through nine.
The final line for Hart was - 6 innings pitched, 4 hits, 2 earned runs, 0 walks and 6 strikeouts. Sophomore Luke Harrison and freshmen Scott Effross combined for three scoreless frames to solidify the Hoosier victory.
After allowing two runs in the first inning, Hart did not allow another Bulldog to cross the plate in his last five innings of work.
"That first inning I felt like I was throwing quality pitches that just got into the outfield," Hart said. "But it happened to me last week against Michigan State, I threw good pitches and they hit it. It's the way it goes."
Smith said Hart is learning a lot from another pitcher on staff, junior Joey DeNato. DeNato is the Hoosier's ace and usually pitches on Friday.
"I agree a little bit with that," sophomore catcher Chad Clark said. "Every pitcher you know is doing their own thing. But (DeNato) has a lot of confidence on the mound, he goes right after batters. And Hart has taken on that approach."
Hart is a 'ball in play' pitcher, Smith said. Being that kind of pitcher requires a solid defense, and for the second straight game, the Hoosiers had zero errors. They have been much sharper these last two games, senior infielder Michael Basil said.
"That's really what we had talked about in our team meeting the other day and what we talked about in practice," Basil said. "Being sharp and making all the little things matter. In the little skid that we had we weren't making all the plays that we should be making, and we were having too many mental mistakes. That's really been our focus and it's really showed these past few games."
The Hoosier offense manufactured runs today and utilized small ball technique. In the fifth inning where IU scored three runs in the frame, all nine players got up to bat despite the ball never getting out of the infield.
"That was good to see the hustle plays," Smith said. "They bobbled a couple balls but I think (junior infielder Dustin) DeMuth beating that force was a little thing. It was about time we had one of those innings."
There was one major lineup change today as usual leadoff hitter, senior outfielder Justin Cureton, was moved down from the leadoff spot to ninth in the lineup.
"I mean, honestly it's a result of him not having really good at-bats the past four or five games," Smith said. "And it's not that he's not trying, he just hasn't put together really good at-bats."
Today Cureton went 1-for-3 with a run scored, and his coach liked what he saw from the senior.
"I thought (Cureton) had his best day at the plate at the tail end of the order because he was getting more fast balls," Smith said. "Truthfully I kind of liked what I saw today. I don't want to say it's permanent, but I'll bet you'll see it again."
Effross recorded his fourth save of the season tonight. Smith opted to go with Effross versus junior pitcher Ryan Halstead, who has six saves on the year, because this team doesn't have one set closer.
"That's what I keep saying, we kind of got the double-barrel shotgun with the closer situation," Smith said. "Whichever one closes, he'll be on the backburner the next game ... We don't look at it as 'This guy's the number one closer, this is the number two.' It's more situational for us."
IU will try to complete the sweep of the Bulldogs when the series shifts to Indianapolis. First pitch is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.
Projected pitching matchups
IU -- Aaron Slegers (5-1 with a 1.59 ERA)
Butler -- Billy Laing (2-1 with a 4.19 ERA)
Play-by-play of today's scoring
Top of the 1st
After two straight hits to lead off the game, Michael Fries of Butler drove in the first run of the game on a fielder's choice.
Later in the inning, a bit of crafty base running helped the Bulldogs take the early 2-0 lead.
With runners on the corners and two outs, Radley Haddad of Butler was trying to steal second base and while Haddad was running to second, the runner on third, Jack Dillon, stole home.
Haddad was caught in a pickle, which allowed Dillon to cross home plate before Haddad was tagged for the third out of the inning.
Bottom of the 2nd
Sophomore catcher Chad Clark drove in senior infielder Michael Basil on a fielder's choice, 2-1 Butler.
Bottom of the 3rd
In the next frame for the Hoosiers, sophomore infielder Sam Travis's sac fly scored sophomore outfielder Will Nolden to knot the score at two runs apiece.
Bottom of the 5th
The Hoosiers took the lead when runners were on second and third and the Bulldogs gave a free pass to Travis to intentionally load the bases.
Sophomore infielder Scott Donley then recorded the RBI walk to put the Hoosiers ahead.
Then an error by Butler shortstop Marco Caponi allowed Nolden to score.
Caponi's rough inning continued when he fielded a junior outfielder Casey Smith grounder and flipped it to the second base.
But junior infielder Dustin DeMuth beat out the throw, reaching safely and allowed Travis to score. This gave the Hoosiers the 5-2 lead, which ended up being the final score.
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