IU clinches series in 8-2 win over Iowa #iubase

It all seems so far away now — the frustrating losses, the uneven approaches at the plate and the days when the Hoosiers couldn’t seem to get out of their own way.

This Indiana team, the one that has emerged within the last two weeks, has the look of a Big Ten contender. Yes, this is IU baseball at its most complete.

Saturday’s 8-2 win over Iowa at Bart Kaufman Field is the Hoosiers’ eighth in a row, extending the mid-season surge this program needed. The Hoosiers (20-13, 6-2) did it with more outstanding pitching, timely and connected hitting and a few good plays in the field that kept the Hawkeyes (16-17, 5-6) from generating any semblance of momentum.

“The last week or so, we’ve put all three phases together and some guys are feeling good about playing, just with their swings, their games (and) their pitching,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “We’ve gotten some really good pitching efforts lately and that really helps.”

Iowa arrived in Bloomington as a team in a similar shape as Indiana. The Hawkeyes entered the weekend with wins in six of their previous eight games, while searching for the same sort of mid-season traction that the Hoosiers have apparently found.

But after Indiana clinched the series on Saturday afternoon, Iowa is no closer to finding the momentum it needs.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, are in good shape three weeks into the conference season. They have now strung together four consecutive games with at least 10 hits, complementing a pitching rotation that continues to live up to its billing as one of the top staffs in the conference.

A day after Kyle Hart tossed his third career complete game in Friday’s 7-1 victory over the Hawkeyes, Caleb Baragar followed with one of his better outings of the season. Baragar has emerged as a solid second punch in IU’s weekend rotation, building a reputation as a strike-throwing left-hander that won’t often beat himself.

He tossed 73 of his 101 total pitches for strikes during his seven innings on the mound, scattering six hits, walking none and striking out four.

“It seems like every time Kyle throws well, I throw well, too,” Baragar said. “I don’t know why there’s that mojo, but I just try to do my own thing and throw strikes, really.”

The only damage against Baragar came through a pair of RBI singles by Iowa pitcher Tyler Peyton in the third and sixth innings. Otherwise, Baragar was in control. He limited base-runners and avoided the big inning — turning a pretty 1-6-3 double play shortly after Peyton’s single in the sixth.

“The double play was one of the bigger plays in the game,” Baragar said.

He’s correct, because of what it meant. Just as the Hawkeyes saw a fleeting glimpse of promise with Peyton’s second run-scoring hit, the Hoosiers tightened their death grip and made this game their own down the stretch.

Indiana supported Baragar with seven runs between the first two innings, beginning with a two-run homer by Craig Dedelow in the bottom of the first. The IU centerfielder pulled an inside pitch to right field, sending the ball deep into the grassy picnic area where it landed only a few feet shy of 408 ft. marker beyond the outfield fence.

With one out and runners in scoring position, Luke Miller’s sacrifice fly to center allowed Ryan Fineman to tag from third and put the Hoosiers ahead 3-0.

Dedelow finished 2-for-5 with three RBIs and two runs scored, plating Brian Wilhite on an infield single in the second inning. Dedelow scored moments later when Fineman drove a fastball the other way to right field. The Hoosiers were helped by Iowa right fielder Luke Farley’s bobble in the field that allowed Logan Sowers to follow Dedelow to the plate. Scotty Bradley’s slap single to left field drove in Fineman for IU’s seventh run of the day.

Bradley collected a career-high three hits, while Fineman extended his team-best hitting streak to 14 games. Sowers added a solo home run, his seventh of the season, in the bottom of the sixth.

“We’re swinging at good pitches,” Dedelow said. “Early in the season, we were kind of getting ourselves out by swinging at bad pitches. We’re really taking team at-bats rather than personal at-bats.”

The Hoosiers are also making up ground in the Big Ten standings, where they’ve surged into second place ahead of Sunday’s series finale.

“This is what we were looking forward to doing all season,” Dedelow said. “We’re finally starting to click on all cylinders.”