Hoosiers rout Huskies, 18-0

Northern Illinois starter Donovin Sims entered Friday’s series opener with a 1.46 earned run average.

Indiana quickly inflated that figure.

The No. 18 Hoosiers pounced on Huskies pitching, beginning with a six-run bottom of the first that paved the way to their 18-0 romp at Bart Kaufman Field.

The offensive and situational struggles Indiana (13-4) endured during the first week of its current nine-game homestand now seem far in the past. These Hoosiers are feasting on non-conference pitching, illustrating the top-to-bottom balance that makes their lineup so potent.

“Honestly, if we swing like this every game, we can put a lot of runs on the board no matter what,” leadoff man Logan Kaletha said. “One through nine lineup-wise, even guys that come in to (pinch) hit, it’s just unreal the type of talent we have. Pretty excited for this year.”

Kaletha starred in Friday’s slugfest, mashing a leadoff home run into the left field bullpen on Sims’ second pitch of the evening.

In a matter of moments, the ERA of Sims, who had only pitched in 12 innings out of the bullpen prior to visiting Indiana, went from sub-2.00 to 8.84 by the end of his three-inning start.

“Northern Illinois has a good team and we were just hot tonight,” Lemonis said. “We had some really good at-bats.”

All throughout the lineup, too.

The Hoosiers set season highs for runs and hits (17), getting at least one hit from 10 different players.

Kaletha finished 4-for-6 with two RBIs and two runs, while Matt Lloyd went 4-for-6 with four RBIs and three runs.

Kaletha took two at-bats during the marathon first inning, which saw the Hoosiers bat around and pair their six runs with six hits. After Matt Gorski and Ryan Fineman produced back-to-back two-run singles, Kaletha came back and sliced a single to left field that scored Fineman.

With the way Jonathan Stiever pitched, the game was essentially over.

Stiever turned in a second consecutive outstanding start, stymieing the Huskies in front of 10 professional scouts. After striking out a career-high 12 batters last Friday against Pacific, Stiever dazzled with his efficiency against Northern Illinois.

The right-hander threw 48 of his 62 pitches for strikes across six scoreless innings, yielding only two hits, striking out six and walking none. He also induced 10 groundouts.

“Being able to pitch with such a big lead early on, you really can be in control and go after the hitters even more,” Stiever said. “With the offense providing so much, there really isn’t any reason to nibble at all. I was going after them with the fastball, which was working, and they were swinging pretty early in the count, which helped.”

Had this game been played later in the season — or in better weather — Stiever likely would have continued pitching.

But with the early cushion and the mid-40-degree temperatures, Stiever did enough to earn an early break from work.

“We talked about it before the game,” Lemonis said, “‘It’d be nice to have a shorter start.’ A little bit of it was those big innings early, when your starter sits in some of this weather. It was the time to take him out.”

The offense, meanwhile, kept rolling.

After producing 11 runs on 25 hits across four games last week, the Hoosiers have plated 29 runs on 29 hits in the last two games alone.

And it’s not simply the hits that have impressed during this recent run. Some of IU’s best at-bats recently have seen seen Hoosiers refuse to even swing.

In the past two games alone, IU has drawn 21 walks. Altogether, Indiana’s offensive surge illustrates one of Lemonis’ daily internal struggles — how does he get enough at-bats for everyone?

“I was just telling the team, ‘It’s hard for me because I got two or three, four or five guys (left out), certain nights with how we match up,” Lemonis said. “It’s really hard to make that lineup. A Friday night lineup, being able to put (Laren) Eustace in there, who showed you his speed in a couple at-bats and different things (was good). It’s a nice lineup. We can run, we can hit a little bit, we have enough lefties and we got some power, I think.”

Fittingly, Indiana ended this night with a blast — a two-out grand slam by Justin Walker that punctuated a seven-run bottom of the eighth.

“We were pretty good tonight, just the offense coming out early and the Stiever start,” Lemonis said. “Those two pieces (were important).”

4 comments

  1. Yeah, the only Big Ten team to make it to the College World Series in nearly 30 years. Who cares.

    Kyle Scwarber misses an entire season but comes back to lead the Cubs to the World Championship at season’s end. Who cares?

    Next thing you know you’ll be coming on here singing the praises of fourth rate Michigan players.

  2. I suggest that the majority of the Hoosier Nation cares about IU Baseball. Now that we have a world-class baseball facility and a winning program, a lot of people care. Too bad college baseball is so affected by the weather. The colleges in the south east, west coast and southwest have a major advantage over schools located in the northern half of the country.

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