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Hoosier baseball bounces back, sweeps Rutgers

For the first time in a month, Indiana won a baseball series this weekend. And they did it in the best way -- a sweep. And with those three wins, the Hoosiers have jumped from 11th to 7th in the Big Ten standings. But was this an anomaly or the start of something good?

The author apologizes for the recap of IU's sweep coming one day late. But, in all seriousness, he had better things to do than write about Rutgers.

What happened?

Friday night, Caleb Baragar gave Manager Chris Lemonis a much needed quality start, and had the Hoosiers in a position to win as he exited leading 3-2. Luke Harrison gave up a tying run in the 8th, remained in for the 9th, and ended up picking up the win after Logan Sowers singled with the bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th for a walk-off win.

Saturday was all Indiana. Jake Kelzer turned in what was by far his best performance since the Ball State game where he gave up one hit in 7 IP. This weekend, he threw 8.0 IP and gave up only three hits. Halstead finished the shutout in the 9th and IU won 6-0.

Sunday started disappointingly. Scott Effross got warmed up in the pen for his start, and then was scratched. Christian Morris ended up getting the nod, and threw 4.0 scores innings. Rutgers tied the game at four in the top of the 5th, giving Morris a ND. Kyle Hart picked up the win after pitching just 0.2 IP in the top of the 5th. Indiana took a 5-4 lead in the bottom half of the inning and never looked back, winning by that score.

What did we learn?

1. Scott Effross isn't right. When asked whether Effross was scratched because of soreness or anything similar to why he missed three weeks earlier this season, Lemonis said that was not the case. "It was just something kind of freaky," Lemonis said. "I don't want to say it yet because I don't know exactly what it is. But we'll put it out there. But I don't think it's anything major."

It may not be anything major, but it doesn't sound good. And it doesn't bode well for Indiana at all if Effross can't go this weekend at Illinois. Morris may have pitched four scoreless innings yesterday, but Rutgers is not the same animal that Illinois is. And over the past month, quality opponents, and decent opponents alike, have shelled Morris.

2. Kyle Hart is getting closer to what Indiana needs him to be. A couple weeks ago I wrote that they didn't need Hart to become an effective starter again, but rather needed him to develop an ability to throw one or two effective innings in middle relief. Sunday, that's exactly what he did. If Hart continues to show that he can be the bridge between a short start and a great bullpen backend, the Hoosiers will feel good about their chances if they are able to qualify for tournament play.

3. Rutgers sucks in everything. The additions of Nebraska and Maryland have undoubtedly given the Big Ten a boost in various sports (Nebraska in football and baseball; Maryland in football, basketball, and baseball.) But Rutgers almost singlehandedly drags the conference back down to where it would be without the other two additions. I think we all dream of a day when a different school is looking to jump ship to another conference and the 13 others schools can vote Rutgers back into total irrelevance. Nobody ever should have let them out of that godforsaken state to begin with.