Hoosiers cap big weekend with sweep at No. 20 Maryland #iubase

Indiana boarded a plane and flew East this week, leaving four losses and the troubling trajectory of its season in its wake.

Three games at No. 20 Maryland yielded three wins, capped by Sunday’s 6-2 victory over the Terrapins, and rerouted the Hoosiers’ postseason hopes in a more favorable direction. The weekend sweep in College Park, Md. keeps the seventh-place Hoosiers (26-19, 9-10) in the hunt for a Big Ten Tournament invitation and puts an at-large berth in the NCAA Tournament within reach.

In finishing off the big road series, Indiana outscored the Terps 25-9. It combined for 30 hits and saw all three weekend starters go five innings, while the bullpen allowed only three runs over 12 innings of work.

“It’s huge for us,” right fielder Will Nolden told BTN on Sunday. “We have our backs against the wall these next couple weeks. That was our goal to come out and play well, and obviously we did that really well this weekend.”

IU finished with six hits and the top six batters in the lineup each scored once on Sunday, beginning with a five-run top of the third that sent the Hoosiers on their way. Brad Hartong’s RBI groundout drove in Casey Rodrigue for the first run of the afternoon, before Maryland starter Jake Drossner lost command of the strike zone. With two outs and Nick Ramos on second, Drossner walked Scott Donley on five pitches and hit Logan Sowers on the second pitch of his at-bat. With the bases loaded, Drossner threw eight consecutive balls to walk in Ramos and Donley and, after a pitching change, Austin Cangelosi drove a two-run double to left field and pushed Indiana’s lead to five.

On the mound, Caleb Baragar rolled to his first win of the season. The left-hander allowed a solo home run in the third inning, but hardly fell into trouble on the way to five innings of work — his longest outing over his last three starts. Baragar threw 46 of his 73 pitches for strikes, while walking two and striking out four.

Maryland’s only other run came unearned off of reliever Evan Bell in the bottom of the eighth. Maryland’s Kevin Smith reached on an error by IU third baseman Isaiah Pasteur before coming around to score when the next batter, Brandon Lowe, doubled to right-centerfield. Right-hander Scott Effross also worked two scoreless innings out of the pen and Ryan Halstead worked a perfect ninth, ending the game on a swinging strikeout to send the Hoosiers home.

“I think it starts with our pitchers, with them pounding the strike zone and the great defense we had — now that we have our defense back healthy — it really starts with our pitching,” Nolden said. “We got three very, very quality starts out of our starters, then the back of our bullpen is really strong. The pitching and defense, that’s our backbone. Us hitters, we just built off that.”

This weekend marked IU’s first conference series win since sweeping Rutgers three weeks ago.

Indiana arrived in Maryland coming off two weekend losses to Michigan before dropping two more to Missouri Valley Conference programs Evansville and Indiana State. Now comes a four-day layoff before the Hoosiers return to Bart Kaufman Field and host Long Beach State in a compelling non-conference series next weekend.

The Dirtbags and Hoosiers are in similar spots, as both programs seek to create some positive momentum heading down the stretch. Long Beach State enters the week as one of Baseball America’s first four teams left out of the NCAA Tournament, while Indiana is still making up ground lost to its midseason funk.

If this weekend’s success on the East Coast proves to be something more than the start-and-stop rhythm the Hoosiers haven’t been able to shake, then the Hoosiers could be peaking at the right time, with a postseason future well within their sights.

4 comments

  1. what the hell happened to the baseball team? i thought the pitching was supposed to be all that. i kinda got into it last year

  2. The pitching has still been pretty good. Just lost a lot of talent and been inconsistent.

  3. Pitching has been pretty good all year. However, I think IU is near the top in errors this year in the Big Ten. Also, this team has struggled this year to do the little things right. Fielding, bunting, and throwing errors have hurt this team all year. Also, this team was going to struggle to score a lot of runs after 3 of probably best players to come through IU left after last season. The funny thing is this team has dominated versus ranked teams. I think they have a winner record against ranked opponents this year.

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