The poor showing in Greenville, SC, a few weekends ago feels like a distant memory. A thrashing of the College of Charleston started Indiana on a 5-game winning streak that they bring home this week to Bloomington, where they play five games in six days--two against Eastern Michigan, today and tomorrow, and three in a huge weekend series against Cal State Fullerton. (Look for a Fullerton preview on Friday.) Here's everything you need to know about the midweek battle:
Who: Eastern Michigan Eagles. Eastern Michigan has struggled mightily so far this season. They sit at 6-10 and have only scored more than five runs once, and that was on the backend of a doubleheader, which happened to also be the fourth game of a weekend series with Santa Clara. Only one Eastern Michigan hitter is batting over .300. Mitchell McGeein also has more than 20% of the Eagles RBIs (12 out of 50). Other than McGeein, their offense poses no real threat on paper.
The Eagles' pitching hasn't been awful, as they boast a team ERA of 3.04. Their Wednesday starter, Kyle Huckaby, 0-0, has been nothing but solid with a 2.25 ERA in 12.1 IP in five appearances (one start). But the Tuesday starter, Brent Mattson, 0-0, has an ERA of 12.00 after giving up nine runs in 6.0 IP.
The Hoosiers: Mattoon's Tuesday start may be a godsend as the Hoosiers' true freshman Brian Hobbie makes his first career start. Hobbie has yet to allow a run in three appearances for Indiana, but those three appearances only amount to 3.2 IP. Not that we shouldn't have confidence in Hobbie, but you never know with a rookie starter.
It should be interesting to see the two-time Illinois All-State selection make his first start. You have to think that, ideally, Indiana would like to make Hobbie the second weekday starter behind Caleb Baragar who dominated St. Joseph's last weekend. That would allow Evan Bell to stay in the bullpen, where he has been an outstanding asset when needed in long or middle relief.
As noted in yesterday's weekend recap, the Hoosier offense has been just enough so far this season. They're averaging 10 runs per game, but that number is only 4.9 if you remove the two games in which they've combined for 31 runs. But don't expect offense to be a problem at all this week against Eastern Michigan. The only team on Eastern Michigan's schedule with comparable talent to that of Indiana's has been Arizona, and in three games, the Eagles gave up 29 runs to the Wildcats. We may not see production like they had during the Ball State game, but the Indiana bats should continue to heat up as the Fullerton series approaches.
When: Tuesday at 4PM. Wednesday at 4PM. You can watch the games at btn2go.com, get live stats or listen at iuhoosiers.com, or you can enjoy the heatwave hitting southern Indiana and get out to the Bart.
Where: Bart Kaufman Field. Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition. Baseball is back in Bloomington. And even Darren Rovell is excited about it!
The Hoosiers are 39-8 at the Bart since it opened in 2013. So BKF has been very friendly to the club. But this season, it's going to be friendly to Hoosier Nation as well. I'm not for plugging other people, but this team deserves big crowds, so in case any of these promotions will persuade you to show up:
Every Tuesday, including today, is dollar hot dog day! And for the home opener, IU baseball is giving away a Spring Break Trip!
For every midweek game, if you buy four or more tickets for $7 each, you get one voucher with each ticket that is good for one soft drink and either a hot dog, pretzel, or nachos. (Not available for purchase at the gate.)
(Click here for the promotions scheduled throughout the season.)
One sad note, however. If you wanted to dump half a cow in your lap at the ballpark today or tomorrow, you'll have to wait. The Triple Play Burger won't be available until the Fullerton series. But starting this weekend, be ready to run: If the Hoosiers turn a triple play at home, the first 20 people in line at the concession stand get a free Triple Play Burger. You get three all-beef patties, three slices of cheddar cheese, and nine slices of bacon, you get three all-beef patties, three slices of cheddar cheese, and nine slices of bacon, EVERYBODY GETS THREE ALL-BEEF PATTIES, THREE SLICES OF CHEDDAR CHEESE, AND NINE SLICES OF BACON!!!
See you all at the Bart.