Gorski an unsung hero for Indiana

He hits for average, hits for power, runs well and plays excellent defense.

There aren’t many holes in Matt Gorski’s game.

Throughout the season, as Indiana has pushed its way toward this week’s Austin Regional, Gorski has enjoyed a breakout campaign in the middle of IU’s lineup.

Now, the sophomore outfielder is looking to carry his excellent play this spring into the NCAA Tournament, helping the Hoosiers try to extend their season beyond this weekend.

“I think he’s the unsung hero,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said. “He’s not that big name you hear about, but as the season’s grown, man, he does everything.”

Gorski may not have been widely known across the Big Ten coming into this season, but he’s done more than enough to cement his status as one of the league’s best up-and-coming players.

He earned All-Big Ten First Team status last week, joining teammates Jonathan Stiever and Matt Lloyd on the league’s top all-star platoon.

Gorski leads Indiana in batting average (.363), hits (74), doubles (13), triples (three), total bases (117), stolen bases (19) and slugging percentage (.574). He also ranks third on the team with eight home runs, most recently demonstrating his power stroke with a game-tying three-run homer in the bottom of the ninth of Thursday’s eventual 6-5 extra-inning win over Michigan State at the Big Ten Tournament.

“It was a big honor for me,” Gorski said of earning All-Big Ten top billing. “There’s a lot of great outfielders in this conference and being named first team is huge for me. I mean, we have three great outfielders on this team. To be named first team was huge for me. It was a huge accomplishment, but I’m focused on the team right now.

And there are so many ways Gorski can help the Hoosiers this weekend.

Start with his bat.

Coming out of Hamilton Southeastern, Gorski was ranked among the state’s top prospects, hitting .344 with five home runs and 30 RBIs as a senior. He was still somewhat underdeveloped for the college level — even as high school players go — given that he juggled baseball with soccer training during the summer.

But Gorski’s raw baseball talent was always evident.

In high school, balls left Gorski’s bat with an exit velocity that could rival anyone in the state, Lemonis said. As he’s grown and bulked up at Indiana, Gorski has enjoyed an uptick in extra-base hits and home runs with the Hoosiers.

“Each day as you watch him as a coach, (you see) he’s a little better, a little better, a little better,” Lemonis said. “He’s still got a lot of growth in there, which is exciting.”

Yet for all of Gorski’s big swing potential, he’s also adept at playing small ball and bunting for base hits when seams present themselves.

Then, there is his glove.

After playing first base last season, Gorski has returned to his more natural position in the outfield, where he’s basically a centerfielder playing in left.

“He’s a true centerfielder,” Lemonis said. “He plays left for us because of Logan (Kaletha), but I could flip a coin on who’s out there.”

During the third inning of last week’s tournament win over Michigan State, Gorski charged into left-centerfield with two outs and made a highlight reel-worthy diving catch to save a run and end the frame.

It was further evidence of the athleticism and versatility IU has come to expect from the sophomore this season.

“I like being able to play any position on the field, being able to bunt, being able to hit for power,” Gorski said. “I think it helps my game a lot, helps the team a lot, so I’m glad I can do that for the team.”

With tools like that, Gorski could soon be a name people know far beyond the Big Ten.

“He’s been a big piece for us,” Lemonis said. “I know the big names get a lot of the hype, but he’s probably been our most consistent guy all year long.”