Gorski rewarded for big day at the plate

Matt Gorski added a new shirt to his wardrobe this weekend.

After each Indiana victory since Chris Lemonis took over in 2015, the IU coach has highlighted a player whose contributions were most meaningful to the win. The reward is a T-shirt — essentially a game ball — with the current number of Indiana victories printed on it.

For his work in Saturday’s 10-3 Indiana win over Butler, Gorski received shirt No. 20.

The sophomore left fielder went 3-for-5 with three RBIs, including a two-run home run in the sixth inning that turned the game in Indiana’s favor and helped the Hoosiers secure the series sweep.

“It’s good to see him have a good day,” Lemonis said.

Although Gorski’s had some other pretty good days this season, Lemonis believes Saturday was the first time this spring that the Fishers native was chosen as IU’s player of the game. It’s surprising when Lemonis thinks about it, considering everything Gorski does for No. 18 Indiana (20-5).

He’s batting a cool .337, while giving IU steady, reliable play in left field. Perhaps most surprising to Lemonis was that Saturday’s two-run shot to left-centerfield stands as Gorski’s only homer this year.

“He hits a lot of long balls and he’s probably got as much power as anybody we’ve got,” Lemonis said of Gorski, who hit four homers as a freshman last year. “He does so many things to help you win a game. He had a bunt for a hit and a stolen base in yesterday’s game. He made a diving catch today. He’s got a bazooka from the outfield, so he’s just a really good baseball player.”

His home run Saturday came at a really good time, too.

For the first few innings, it was Butler (17-7) that made the most of its opportunities at the plate. The Bulldogs jumped on IU starter Connor Manous with a two-run single by Garrett Christman in the top of the first, and after IU used a pair of run-scoring fielder’s choice scenarios to tie it by the fourth inning, Butler swung back in front on James Gargano’s RBI groundout in the sixth.

Enter Gorski, who sent the first pitch he saw in the bottom half of the inning over the fence.

“I saw a change up for my first two at-bats, and then Scotty Bradley had a really good at-bat before me,” Gorski said. “He walked and he couldn’t find his changeup for him, so I thought, ‘Hey, I’m probably going to get a good fastball here’ and I put a good swing on it.”

From there, Matt Lloyd and Luke Miller followed with back-to-back RBI singles to extend IU’s four-run sixth-inning and boost its lead to 6-3.

Gorski helped the Hoosiers rally for three more in the seventh with an RBI single that scored Ryan Fineman. The IU catcher likely would have been thrown out at the plate, but the throw home was off line. A pair of sacrifice fly RBIs from Wyatt Cross and Justin Walker pushed Indiana’s advantage to 9-3.

Fineman capped the scoring in the eighth, coming home on the second of back-to-back throwing errors that inning by Christman at third.

Saturday was the latest come-from-behind win for a team that has made that ability one of its signature qualities this season. Better yet for the Hoosiers, it moved them further up the RPI rankings, where they were slotted at No. 21 immediately after the game.

The Butler series represented Indiana’s final non-conference weekend set of the campaign. From here, IU will spend its weekends battling Big Ten foes.

Although Lemonis would like to see more consistent play in the field from his Hoosiers, he can’t complain about the way the first half of the season has developed.

Indiana is getting contributions from all over its roster this spring. With Gorski’s standout day, Saturday served as the latest example.

“20-5 is a good record to start out the first 25 games,” Gorski said. “Feel confident going into conference play, there’s really good conference teams we have coming up. But toward the end of the season, we need to be playing our best toward the Louisvilles, the Kentuckys, the Big Ten opponents.”