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Hoosiers escape in 3 games, dominate 4th to sweep Florida competition

With Scott Effross resting for precautionary purposes, Indiana baseball battled to win three tough ballgames to start the weekend, then destroyed Ball State on Sunday to win its 5th straight and improve to 8-4.

Indiana started its weekend by taking both games of a Friday doubleheader, walking off against Villanova when Casey Rodrigue singled home a run in the bottom of the 9th to win 4-3. That evening, the Hoosiers exploded for seven runs in the 2nd inning against Dartmouth and that's all they would need, winning 8-6. Another tight win was earned on Saturday against St. Joseph's and then Indiana embarrassed Ball State on Sunday behind Jake Kelzer's dominance and a 16-run offensive outburst.

So what can we takeaway from this weekend?

1. There is plenty of pitching in the Hoosier battery. In Friday's preview article, I noted that without Effross, taking three out of four would be a good weekend for Indiana. I knew that Christian Morris and Jake Kelzer would be fine and that they would likely provide two wins. What I didn't know was that Evan Bell and Thomas Belcher could combine for 9.0 IP to save the bullpen from tiring on Friday afternoon or that Caleb Baragar would be dominant.

Bell and Belcher got the weekend started right by limiting Villanova to three runs in what essentially was a midweek game for the Hoosiers. And on Saturday, Baragar struck out nine of the 17 batters he faced in 5.0 IP.

Morris struggled on Friday night against Dartmouth, giving up six runs (4 earned) in only 5.0 IP, but the bullpen was tremendous over the last four innings as they were throughout the entire weekend, giving up only three runs in 13.1 IP. Kelzer was even better than expected. He took a no-hitter into the 7th before giving up a single, Ball State's lone hit off the starter. And even with a couple Hoosier errors, Kelzer was only one batter over the minimum in 7.0 IP.

In the end, Indiana may have found two weekday starters in Bell and Baragar, and more-than-competent emergency starters if one of the three rotations guys needs to sit on a weekend.

One last pitching note: CQ's favorite Hoosier pitcher finally saw his first action of the season on Sunday. Will Coursen-Carr relieved Kelzer in the 8th and finished the game. I'm not sure it bodes well for Coursen-Carr that it took a 16-0 lead to get on the mound, the but the results were encouraging. If you remember, his problems last season revolved around having the same amount of control as Rick "Wild Thing" Vaughn (Google it, children). But on Saturday, Coursen-Carr only gave up one walk, and the run he allowed in the 9th was unearned after an error. So, encouraging results, but only time will tell us whether or not Coursen-Carr has earned the trust of the Lemonis staff.

2. Having juuuuuuuuust enough offense is working out fine. Six of Indiana's eight wins have come by two runs or less, something we haven't seen much of the last two seasons. (The other two seasons are more like what we're accustomed to; 15-1 over College of Charleston and 16-1 over Ball State.) The Hoosiers are scoring 10 runs per game, but if you take out those two thrashings, they've averaged only 4.9 runs per game in the other 10 contests. That's down nearly one and one half runs from last year's 6.27 run per game average. But eight wins in twelve games isn't a disappointment for this club considering what was lost in the offseason.

3. The wait is (almost) over. After Sunday's beatdown of Ball State, the wait for the Hoosiers to return to Bart Kaufman is nearly over. At the time of publishing, we're only 27 hours away from baseball in Bloomington. And wouldn't you know it, in a week where IU plays five home games in six days, the baseball gods have blessed us with Springtime weather.