This past weekend, Jeff Mercer led the Hoosiers into Memphis to capture his first win as head coach of the IU program. Indiana won the series 2-1 and while doing so, they showed a lot of positives for fans to look forward to this season. Indiana won the first game 6-1, lost the second 3-6 but bounced back in the rubber match to win 6-0 on Sunday.
Series Clinching Wins 👍 pic.twitter.com/lIwPav0TmX
— Indiana Baseball ⚾️ (@IndianaBase) February 18, 2019
The first strength is how well the offense was clicking. Five different players helped contribute runs this past weekend and almost every player that got an at-bat also got a hit. The Hoosiers left Memphis scoring a total of 15 runs off 20 hits. One concern entering this season for Indiana was how well they would be able to score runs due to losing their top two run producers by virtue of graduation and the MLB draft. For the most part, the everyday lineup looks to be almost a finished product with just two positions still rotating players.
✏️ Jake Skrine makes his first career start today.
✏️ Tommy Sommer starts on the mound for the fourth time of his career. pic.twitter.com/nBqjNKN6LO
— Indiana Baseball ⚾️ (@IndianaBase) February 17, 2019
Another high point for the Hoosiers this past weekend, was their exceptional pitching. Senior, Pauly Milto, started the first game of the series, Tanner Gordan started the second and the finale was started by Sophomore, Tommy Sommer. Milto threw seven innings, allowing no runs and only two hits. Gordan, a transfer from JUCO John A. Logan, looked impressive in his first start for Indiana. Gordan pitched four innings, allowed three hits and gave up one earned run, while also striking out six of the batters he faced. Sommer took the hill on Sunday, making it only his fourth career start. That did not bother him as he threw for six innings, giving up five hits and no earned runs. It was not just starting pitching as the relievers gave up only three runs in three games.
The final bright spot from the opening weekend will last longer than just this season. The coaching staff as a whole proves to be a definite upgrade. The pitching and hitting typically look rough at the beginning of the year, but IU looked as if they were not playing their first series. The coaching staff did an excellent job at getting their players ready in preparation for their first game, while also doing a great job at making coaching decisions throughout the game. Mercer loves to rely on aggressive baserunning, and we say it early. The Hoosiers only tried to steal two bases, getting caught once, but the players stretching a single into a double is what stood out more to me. It happened a few times throughout the series and Mercer was not mad when the player would get thrown out at second. He loves to see the aggressiveness and often times works more in his favor than not.
Indiana travels down to Knoxville on February 22, where they take on Tennessee for their second series of the year. The game starts at 4:30 on Friday and you can stream it through SECN+.