Herrin, Fineman help Hoosiers to 3-0 win, best start since ’87

INDIANAPOLIS — It started at home.

A four-inning relief appearance two weeks ago at Indiana State was exactly what Tim Herrin needed. For a left-hander with raw talent but wavering confidence, pitching in his hometown of Terre Haute supplied Herrin with the boost he was looking for.

He continued his strong recent run on Tuesday at Victory Field, authoring a gem of an outing that pushed Indiana to its best start since 1987.

Herrin’s six shutout innings propelled the No. 12 Hoosiers to a 3-0 win over Notre Dame before an announced crowd of 4,118 in the state capital.

With seven consecutive victories, IU (27-6) is off to its best 33-game start in 31 years.

The battery of Herrin and catcher Ryan Fineman had a lot to do with the Hoosiers’ latest win, with Herrin turning in his best outing of the season and Fineman crushing a two-run homer to left field in the sixth inning.

For Herrin, appearances such a Tuesday’s have been a long time in the making. The junior southpaw has always had the talent to compete at a high level of Division I baseball.

He’s just needed the confidence.

“Working with (pitching coach Kyle) Bunn, throwing my bullpen sessions, then going out in games and being able to execute like I’ve been in the bullpen (has led to recent success),” Herrin said. “That really builds confidence for you, and I’ve been able to build on that since my outing at Indiana State and so on.”

Across his six innings Tuesday, Herrin allowed only one hit — a first-inning single — and one walk. He struck out six and retired 14 in a row between the first and sixth innings.

The lanky lefty pitched off his fastball, while consistently sprinkling in a slider for strikes, too.

“I thought it was great,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “I really like their lineup. I thought they had four or five (good hitters). They have some professional hitters. Timmy pitched in and out all night long and just gave us a chance.”

Since his March 28 outing in Terre Haute, Herrin has been dialed in.

The four-outing span has seen Herrin allow only one run on nine hits in 17 combined innings, with four walks and 16 strikeouts.

A former standout quarterback at Terre Haute South, Herrin’s development as a college pitcher has required patience. At least recently, it seems to be paying off.

“He’s really raw as a pitcher so he hasn’t played as much as all the other kids because he played so much football, so I think there’s a piece of him still trying to feel his way,” Lemonis said. “His first year he pitched a couple innings, where (Jonathan) Stiever and (Pauly) Milto threw a lot. He’s just been a little behind the eight ball in development and it’s taken a little longer.”

Now, Herrin is contributing to a pitching staff that can officially call itself the nation’s best.

After Tuesday’s game, Indiana ranks first in the country with a 2.27 team ERA. The two relievers IU used against Notre Dame, B.J. Sabol and Matt Lloyd, haven’t allowed a single run all year.

“The biggest thing is just executing pitches when we can,” Herrin said. “Keeping it in the strike zone. And we have, I think, one of the better defenses in the country. I can think of four of five balls today where my defense made a great play behind me.”

Indeed, the IU gloves were in fine form on Tuesday.

One of the highlights of the night was Lloyd’s catch to start the sixth inning. The starting second baseman retreated into shallow right field to make a diving, over-the-shoulder catch for the first out of the inning.

“I think the biggest piece right now is defense,” Lemonis said. “We’re starting to really play defensively and not hurt ourselves that way. Our offense has a lot of different ways to win.”

That lineup versatility was on display against the Fighting Irish (15-22) . On a cold night when several hard-hit balls seemed to die in the air, Fineman mashed a fastball from Anthony Holubecki into the grass beyond the left field fence for his fifth homer of the year. Credit Logan Kaletha, too, for starting the inning with a 12-pitch leadoff walk that set the table.

“He had some really tough at-bats today,” Lemonis said. “I think that may have turned that inning around. I think it was a (12)-pitch at-bat where he got on base in front of Fineman. It was a big deal tonight because the (velocity) went down on their guy, it looked like, whenever we had runners in scoring position.”

An RBI groundout from Justin Walker added some welcome insurance in the seventh.

It all added up to Indiana’s latest win — and the program’s best start in more than three decades.

“It’s awesome,” Fineman said. “But I definitely want it to be our best finish.”


    1. Unlikely that games will be shown locally. There are the few national cable broadcasts the team gets through BTN and ESPN2 or ESPNU. Then there are the online BTN Student U broadcasts that are available nearly, if not every, weekend. I’ll also toss the radio option out there. I think Greg Murray does a damn good job calling IU ballgames. You can find those broadcasts on the dial at 105.1 FM in Bloomington and online at whcc105.com. Here, too, is the online link to the IU radio network: https://tunein.com/radio/Indiana-Hoosier-Sports-Network-s231142/

      1. I agree with Mike on the radio broadcast. It was good to hear Don Fischer in the booth last night attempting to do a little calling of the game. Greg is excellent.

  1. I would also suggest listening to radio broadcast over television for the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. The radio guys are exponentially better than the same old entrenched dudes on CBS/TNT that need to retire.
    My Lord…I was ready to throw a brick at the TV I had to endure one more Raftery pun. Radio truly puts forth the real experts. You end up dissecting, ingesting, listening, and imagining far more of what is truly the competitive energies of a game/sport than any limited crap a television narcissist allows while in a fight of microphone vs. camera.
    I’ve always found the radio guys/gals to know the details and back stories making for a far full menu of all things that give a contest its personality. Radio broadcasters are performers…but also storytellers and informers.

    Boxing matches via radio are a great delight…when given a chance to listen to a true master at the craft.

  2. Is it possible that too much imagery and visual overload will save books and radio? Are we being so forced to take so much in via the windows that we’ll desire to close the blinds? For everything thought to be the death of radio ….may be the train coming down the track that rescues it. We’ll long for the eyes to rest and the imagination to flourish once again.

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