Hoosiers defeat Butler 9-3 at the Bart

by Max Heath • @max_heath • Feb 27 

Kaletha and Gorski go long to help the Hoosiers complete the mid-week home sweep.

Indiana baseball won their second straight mid-week game in two days to improve to 4-4 on the season with a 9-3 win over Butler.

Freshman Gabe Bierman was solid in his first career start. He allowed only one hit, one walk, and one earned run with four strikeouts in four innings on the bump. Bierman collected his first collegiate win and Mercer talked after the game about how much he brings to the table.

Mercer said, “He’s a competitive guy and a tough guy… As he, [Bierman], grows up and develops, he has a chance to really work through lineups.”

Mercer called Bierman a “true sinkerball pitcher” which he explained was part of the reason for the wild pitches and passed balls that led to Butler’s first two runs. Wyatt Cross was the starting catcher in place of the usual Fineman and he had trouble keeping the ball in front of him during the second inning. Despite his struggles, it didn’t seem like Mercer’s confidence in him has dipped one bit.

“Wyatt’s worked really hard, he’s a great young man. He’s going to continue to improve on that and I have confidence to get him back out there as quickly as we can,” said Mercer.

However, the problem subsided as the relief came in. Andrew Saalfrank had a terrific bounce-back performance since his rough outing against Memphis. Saalfrank gave up three hits and zero earned runs with three strikeouts in three innings of work.

Conner Manous had a solid 1-2-3 inning in the eighth and Brayden Tucker was able to battle through some adversity to hold Butler scoreless in the ninth. Pitching held strong and will continue to improve and develop as the weather warms up.

Hoosier hitters on the other hand had a rough start to the game. Five out of the first six resulted in strikeouts, but eventually they would settle in. Drew Ashley reached on an error and Wyatt Crossed reached on a single before Matt Gorski cleared the bases with his third home run on the year. Gorski has now homered in back-to-back games and proves to be vital to this Hoosier offense.

Logan Kaletha would eventually find his stride after starting the game with two consecutive strikeouts. Kaletha singled in a run for his first RBI and later belted a towering solo home run to left field in the seventh to start a rally for Indiana. The Hoosiers would work the bases loaded and Ryan Fineman came through with a three RBI double after replacing Cross in the seventh.

As a team the Indiana struck out 10 times with five coming from the first three hitters. That’s never something you want to see, but when you also get five RBI’s and two home runs, it certainly can be ignored. If they can limit the strikeouts and continue hitting for power, this Indiana team will give Big Ten staffs trouble later in the year.

Overall it was a solid showing from this group and a positive note to leave on as they travel to South Carolina for a tough three game slate.

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