Missed chances hurt Hoosiers in 5-0 loss to Irish #iubase

INDIANAPOLIS — To measure offensive success in this game of understood failure, Indiana coaches tally each quality at-bat by one of their hitters on a chart in the dugout.

For IU coach Chris Lemonis, success can be measured through a handful of avenues, perhaps by drawing a walk or advancing a runner, or through sacrifice flies and good swings against good pitches. By the end of Tuesday’s 5-0 loss against Notre Dame, that chart of quality at-bats was frustratingly empty.

“We didn’t chart a lot of them tonight,” Lemonis said.

Not after stranding nine runners, including five of those in scoring position before an announced crowd of 6,607 at Victory Field. Consider it a night of squandered chances for the Hoosiers (23-16), who were looking to spin some of their recent momentum into this annual showdown of in-state college baseball royalty.

After securing a crucial series win at Michigan State last weekend, Tuesday represented a chance to do follow-up work against the Irish (24-15). Notre Dame entered play at No. 44 in the latest RPI, providing the Hoosiers — who began the week at No. 117 — with another shot at a top-50 win.

Without the kind of timely hitting that has emerged during IU’s recent mid-season surge, that was not to be.

“These are big ones — Notre Dame, ACC and in this venue,” Lemonis said. “You had all these people who came out in the rain tonight. It was definitely an opportunity missed for us.”

The offensive misses were apparent early.

The Hoosiers advanced a runner to second base during each of the first three innings, but never cashed in. After a one-out single in the top of the first, Craig Dedelow later moved into scoring position on Ryan Fineman’s two-out single to left. Dedelow found himself stuck there when Austin Cangelosi popped up to the pitcher’s mound to end the inning.

Brian Wilhite smoked a two-out double to left field in the second, but Tony Butler popped up to the left side moments later. In the third, Dedelow once again advanced to second with two outs, but Cangelosi struck out to end the inning.

Indiana finished 0-for-8 at the plate with runners in scoring position and went only 2-for-15 with runners on base.

“It was disappointing,” Lemonis said. “We had a couple guys who had opportunities there to really get that game going for us. We’re not getting an average at-bat, we’re getting a really bad at-bat in those situations. I think we had five pop ups to the infield or foul territory or something in that area. Getting a better pitch, getting our swings going a little bit — we’ve got good hitters, we just didn’t have a good night.”

Notre Dame did the bulk of its damage through the long ball. Cavan Biggio — son of baseball hall of famer Craig Biggio — hit a two-run homer to right field off IU starter Luke Stephenson in the bottom of the third. Zak Kutsulis added a two-run shot off reliever Pauly Milto two innings later. Kutsulis also drove in the game’s first run, slapping a single to right in the first inning.

Coming off his best outing of the season last week at Xavier, Stephenson once again tossed four innings in the staff start for Indiana. He yielded only four hits, walked none and struck out two, while throwing 36 of his 52 pitches for strikes.

“I thought the game was on a couple pitches tonight, where we gave them a pitch right in the middle of the zone and they took advantage of it,” Lemonis said. “I thought he was OK, but we missed a 1-2 curveball at one point in the game and had some different pitches that we have to execute a little bit better.”

Dedelow finished with three hits for the Hoosiers, while Wilhite went 2-for-4. Fineman’s first-inning single stood as the only other hit for IU, though the team also worked four walks, including two by Alex Krupa.

Now, the Hoosiers look toward Wednesday’s home game against Xavier as a chance to atone for their mistakes and make sure their recent mid-season surge isn’t put on ice before a winnable weekend home series against Northwestern.

“We’re trying to build a resume to keep going on further,” Dedelow said. “We knew that this was going to be a big game for us. … If we take care of business like we’re supposed to, we’ll be good at the end of the year.”