The weekend momentum Indiana generated from a crucial Big Ten series win was gone by Wednesday.
The Hoosiers looked flat in a 7-5 loss to Butler before an announced crowd of 2,242 at Bart Kaufman Field. For an IU team stuck on the NCAA Tournament bubble midway through the conference season, this was the kind of midweek loss that teams can’t afford to repeat.
“That was the comment I just made to them,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “Games like this are what keep you out sometimes. Coming out and playing with a sense of urgency (is important). That goes back to coaching. For us to come out and play with the life we did tonight, I did a poor job of getting us ready.”
The defeat was particularly disappointing for IU (19-15-2) given what it had accomplished only a few days ago. The Hoosiers claimed a big weekend series win over first-place Minnesota ahead of this weekend’s trip to Michigan, one of a few Big Ten teams projected to make the NCAA Tournament field.
At the moment, IU is not one of those teams.
Both Baseball American and D1Baseball.com had IU among the first four teams out of the tournament field in projections released earlier Wednesday afternoon. The Hoosiers entered the day at No. 33 in the RPI, and require impressive showings during the next two weeks against the likes of Michigan and Maryland to find the necessary postseason traction.
Dropping a home game to Butler, a program IU throttled 27-1 in Bloomington last season, was a major disappointment in the middle of a big week for the Hoosiers.
To their credit, the Bulldogs (23-13) are an improved club in coach Dave Schrage’s first season. Butler, which finished 14-40 last year, entered the day ranked No. 154 in the RPI.
Butler’s pitching held Indiana to only one hit through the first four innings, and five total on the night.
Indiana’s pitching, meanwhile, wasn’t particularly sharp, beginning with an abbreviated start from Cameron Beauchamp. The freshman left-hander struggled to locate the zone, throwing merely 16 of his 33 pitches for strikes.
Beauchamp’s second wild pitch of the first inning resulted in Butler’s first run, and he left the game with no outs and the bases loaded in the top of the second. Beauchamp was charged with a second run when reliever Kade Kryzsko allowed an RBI single to Zach Jarosz in the second.
“That was a whole team effort tonight,” Lemonis said. “It’s not just our pitchers. It was our hitters, it was our defense. We gave up a run defensively and our coaching staff — it was probably coaching more than anything.”
IU’s early deficit could’ve been worse, but Kryzsko locked in and struck out Tyler Houston on three pitches for the second out and induced an inning-ending groundout to avoid further damage with the bases loaded.
Kryzsko struck out three, walked none and scattered four hits across his three innings of work.
Butler added a third run on a two-out throwing error by IU third baseman Luke Miller in the third before Garrett Christman tagged IU reliever Luke Stephenson for a run-scoring double and Michael Diviesti added an RBI single in the fifth.
IU posted four of its five runs in the bottom of the fifth. The inning was highlighted by a two-run double by Craig Dedelow, who came around to score moments later on Matt Gorski’s double down the left field line.
Matt Lloyd also added a run-scoring single through the right side, picking up his 20th RBI in the past 17 games.
The Hoosiers entered the ninth inning trailing only 5-4, but a two-run homer from Diviesti gave the Bulldogs a three-run advantage.
In the bottom half, Laren Eustace added a fifth run on an RBI groundout by Miller. But on a night when IU managed to go only 3-for-20 with runners on base, it was too little, too late.
“I thought we were pretty lifeless tonight,” Lemonis said. “The frustrating part is you come out here on a Wednesday in this beautiful weather, beautiful park; the place is packed and you’re ready to play and getting excited to play. Then, like I said, it goes back to me getting guys ready to go.”