Hoosiers fall off in home opener, 8-3

Across the first three weeks of the season, Indiana occupied its customary early-season role as road warrior.

During that time, it played some of the best baseball in the country, offering powerful displays of hitting, lockdown pitching from a deep bullpen and a caliber of play befitting a conference favorite.

The Hoosiers’ first game in Bloomington wasn’t up to that standard.

No. 18 IU managed only five hits, while watching its pitching staff struggle to compete in an 8-3 loss to Cincinnati before an announced crowd of 1,460 at Bart Kaufman Field.

“Y’all got to see our worst,” Indiana coach Chris Lemonis said.

Indiana (9-3) entered its home opener playing inspired baseball, winning nine of its first 11 games to author its best start since beginning the 2001 season at 10-1.

But on a cold and windy afternoon in South Central Indiana, the Hoosiers struggled in all phases.

Clutch hits eluded them, as did the pitching that has, for the most part, propelled the team to its fine start.

IU went 3-for-13 with runners on base and merely 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position, playing from behind all afternoon after Cincinnati (7-5) jumped onto the board in each of the first two innings.

Sophomore Andrew Saalfrank has some of the highest upside of any Hoosier hurler, but he’s still working to consistently tap into it.

Indiana wanted to get work for a few pitchers in this mid-week contest, but it still would’ve appreciated a more efficient start from Saalfrank.

The left-hander with the looping curveball threw 41 pitches during his two-inning outing, allowing a solo home run to Connor McVey, the second batter of the game, and a two-run double to ninth-place batter Treg Haberkorn in the second inning.

“We seemed to give in and throw one right down the middle and they hit it out,” Lemonis said. “He has good stuff and he made some really good pitches, but the really good guys, they never give you that ball down the middle of the plate.”

Haberkorn’s double sliced out of the reach of left fielder Matt Gorski, who attempted a diving catch on the ball before landing just short. Afterwards, Lemonis made sure to make that a teachable moment for the sophomore outfielder.

“Coach Lemonis and I have talked about it,” Gorski said. “He said probably not dive for that ball all the time if you don’t have somebody behind you. If it’s in the gap, you have your centerfielder behind you, but if it’s in the corner, you save a run if you don’t dive for the ball, so maybe next time just let it bounce in front of me and pick it up clean.”

Six relievers followed Saalfrank’s brief outing, as Cincinnati continued to mash against Indiana pitching during the middle innings.

Each member of the Bearcats’ starting lineup had at least one hit, and five players produced multi-hit performances.

Cincinnati tagged Tim Herrin for two runs on five hits in one and 1/3 innings, Connor Manous allowed a solo homer in the top of the seventh and the Bearcats closed the afternoon with two more runs in the eighth. Both were charged to Kade Kryzsko.

“We were actually rested,” Lemonis said. “I thought we had all our guys available. They just didn’t pitch great. I thought we were going to piece that game together because we have so much depth, but they got on us early and we chased them the rest of the game.”

Two of Indiana’s five hits came from Gorski, who has four multi-hit efforts in his past five games. During that span, he’s hitting .523 (11-for-21).

Logan Kaletha, who continues to do an excellent job in the leadoff spot, scored IU’s first run on a fielder’s choice in the bottom of the fourth. He’d come around again in the eighth on a groundout by Logan Sowers, which followed an RBI single from Laren Eustace.

But by that point, the contest already seemed out of reach for a Hoosier team unable to recreate the high-level play it displayed across its first three weeks.

This weekend’s three-game series with Pacific offers IU its next chance to return to that level.

“We’ve been playing good,” Lemonis said. “The game of baseball sometimes will punch you right in the nose when you feel good.”


  1. “Indiana (9-3) entered its home opener playing inspired baseball, winning nine of its first 11 games to author its best start since beginning the 2001 season at 10-11.”

    Is this correct?

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