Hoosiers power past Cardinals, 14-3

The videoboard that sits on top of the left field scoreboard at Bart Kaufman Field is 26.8 feet high by 48.7 feet wide. It sits approximately 370 feet from home plate and, on Tuesday night, it was no match for Indiana’s Matt Gorski.

In the seventh inning of IU’s 14-3 runaway win over Ball State, Gorski cleared that videoboard with a mammoth home run blast. In doing so, he also cleared the bases.

Gorski’s grand slam was one of five Hoosier home runs on the night, which featured similar displays of power from Cole Barr, Matt Lloyd, Sam Crail and Scotty Bradley to lead IU to its eighth consecutive victory.

But Gorski’s big blast? On a power-packed night of IU at-bats, nothing topped that.

“I got to play with Luke Miller and (Logan) Sowers for a few years, and obviously they could hit them with the best of them,” Bradley said. “But that had to be the furthest one I’ve ever seen hit. For it to clear the video board is really impressive. Matt is one of the stronger guys I’ve been around since I’ve been here. For him to clear it, I’ve never seen anything quite like it. I’ve seen it in batting practice, but to do it in a game is something special.”

This season in Division I baseball, there aren’t many lineups more potent than Indiana’s. The Hoosiers (25-12) lead the nation with 66 home runs — and have 27 more than than the next highest total in the Big Ten (Michigan, 39).

Barr and Lloyd lead the league with 13 apiece, and they jostled for position atop the Big Ten leaderboard on Tuesday with homers of their own.

Barr went first, clubbing a solo home run to right field in the bottom of the first, before Lloyd answered with a solo shot of his own in the fifth.

Crail capped the night with his first career home run, a solo blast, in the bottom of the eighth. Justin Walker and Drew Ashley also supplied run-scoring singles.

Bradley, meanwhile, got into the action in a big way, hitting a solo home run in the sixth that extended IU’s comfortable advantage to 9-2. The junior infielder finished a double shy of the cycle against the Cardinals (23-13), supplying IU’s first runs on a two-run triple in the bottom of the first. Bradley scored moments later on a wild pitch.

“He’s really been good,” IU coach Jeff Mercer said.

So have the Hoosiers, as a whole, excelling in every aspect of the game against Ball State.

Defensively, Barr made back-to-back diving plays for putouts in the fourth. Gorski completed a beautiful sliding catch in the fifth and Grant Richardson fully extended his body for a diving catch in the eighth.

Then, on the mound, Tommy Sommer was outstanding.

Sommer authored his second straight sterling outing, striking out a career-high 10 in six innings. The sophomore southpaw allowed only two runs on four hits, walking one and throwing 57 of his 87 pitches for strikes.

“I love Tommy’s maturity,” Mercer said. “I love his composure. The breaking-ball wasn’t great tonight so he said, ‘Fine, I don’t need it. I’ll work a fastball, change-up. The command was good, not great, (but) his ability to work fastball-in, early, really opened up the rest of the plate late with the change-up. He doesn’t over-throw. He doesn’t try to throw ‘through’ his stuff. He’s always composed. I love how he holds the run game.”

Sommer’s ability to miss bats also continued a recent trend for Indiana’s pitching staff, which has racked up strikeouts at a high rate across the past week. The Hoosiers recorded 14 strikeouts Tuesday, and over the last 46 innings, IU pitchers have struck out 55 batters.

For the season, IU leads the Big Ten with 341 strikeouts, and Tuesday marked the 15th time that IU has struck out at least 10 batters in a contest.

It was also the eighth occasion that a single pitcher has notched 10 or more strikeouts in a game.

This time — and for the first time — the distinction belonged to Sommer.

“The idea wasn’t to get strikeouts,” Sommer said of his start. “I’ve been pitching to contact all year, but it just happened to be that way. But I’m happy to get strong outings early. Putting up big numbers as a team is always fun.”