I hope you all loved the wordplay, because it's gonna get ugly from here. TO THE HIGHLIGHT RUNDOWN.
Game 1: Washington - 8-2, W: DeNato (2-0), L: Fisher (0-1), S: Effross (1)
This was the kind of game people had expected the Hoosiers to play a lot of this year. The offense was humming and the pitching was superb. Joey DeNato was stupendous, 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K and saw a streak of 19.1 innings without an earned run come to an end, but still a great day for the senior southpaw. If you get a chance to see the Hoosiers in person, try to get there when DeNato is on the bump, he's one of the finest pitchers to come through the program and will own several career records by the time he's done.
At the dish, Kyle Schwarber fell a double short of the cycle and two of hits had me cursing the lack of video feed for the weekend. His first hit was a STAND-UP triple ... BY A CATCHER. I can't even imagine how majestic that must have looked, like a grizzly bear bounding through a forest. Later, he would launch a mammoth three-run home run that would bust the game wide open after the Huskies had pulled within a run.
Game 2: Utah - 4-5 /15, W: Champan (1-0), L: Kelzer (0-1)
Losing in nine innings is bad enough, but to lose in 15 innings is a particularly awful way to end a baseball game. Especially considering that the Hoosiers managed to score in the top of the 13th but allowed the Utes to answer in the bottom of the inning. Then, to open the top of the 14th, Craig Dedelow tripled and despite three outs to work with, IU had a groundout, strikout and flyout to end the threat. Baseball isn't easy, but that's one of those situations where you just have to get the guy in.
Holding a 2-1 lead in the 7th, IU proceeded with a comedy of errors that resulted in two unearned runs. A maimed batsman by Christian Morris started it off, who then moved the runner to second on a balk. Utah attempted to give away an out by sacrificing him to third (which is about the dumbest thing I still see consistently in the game today) but IU bailed them out with a poor throw which allowed the runner to score. Two strikeouts followed and had the throw on the attempted sacrifice been on target the inning would have been over. Two more hits after that plated another unearned run and while IU knotted it up again in the 8th, we know what happened after that.
Game 3: Oregon State - 1-8, W: Schultz (2-0), L: Coursen-Carr (0-2)
The box score will show that the Hoosiers made only a single error in this game, but it lead to 6 unearned runs that buried the Hoosiers in the 7th inning. It started innocuously enough, as a man reached on the error to start the inning. A sacrifice and a foul out quickly followed which set up any runs that would follow would not be earned. Sadly, unearned runs count the same as earned ones and the floodgates opened after the first two outs. C-C was pulled during the onslaught but his replacement gave up 3 hits and 3 runs as well.
C-C ended with a line of 6.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K and while the strikeout total is nice, C-C's early returns have been less than stellar. He escaped a few jams early in this game as well, meaning the run total could have been a lot worse. But that's the crux of his issues so far this year, constant traffic on the bases gives him plenty of opportunities to escape jams but, eventually, when you play with fire you get burned.
Hat tip to Oregon State pitcher Scott Schultz, the senior right-hander for the Beavers went the distance, allowing one run on six hits while striking out six. Phenomenal effort from him to shut down a team dripping with left-handed talent like he did.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?
Early season struggles away from home are not really cause for alarm, but I don't think many of us thought IU would be 2-5 through the first two series of the year. Depending on what poll you fancy, IU is in the bottom half or completely unranked. Baseball America has IU at 17th, the highest mark of the 90 some-odd college baseball polls.
Anyway, the defense has been less than stellar, but a bright spot has been Nick Ramos. He has looked terrific through seven games defensively, and while his bat has yet to heat up, you could say that about a lot of guys in the lineup. Kendall Rogers of Perfect Game USA was heaping praise on Ramos' defense during the challenge this weekend and he's absolutely on point. I haven't seen as much of Ramos because the lack of video streams but he looked excellent in the Texas Tech series.
I do have mild concerns about the pitching not named DeNato. IU has yet to win a game that he doesn't start and has surrendered 10, 6, 7, 5, 8 runs in those five games. It's not encouraging, but, like I said, the sample size remains small enough that we don't have to be pressing the panic button yet. The Hoosiers have a doubleheader down in Louisville this Saturday, where they'll play Toledo first before taking on the Cardinals and after that, it's home, sweet home at last for the good guys.
If you have any questions about the team or the game of baseball in general, fire away in the comments section because I'll be around all day to answer them.