Nothing. That's what Indiana had going for them on Wednesday morning in Minneapolis. Absolutely nothing. If you didn't have a calendar, you would have assumed it was April based on the Hoosiers' performance.
The team that looked like it couldn't be stopped a few days ago managed just four hits and one run in a beatdown that came at the hands of the 3-seed Michigan Wolverines.
The Luke Harrison as a starter experiment has now produced the same thing in two games. Harrison is nearly perfect in a most of his innings, but one huge inning has done him in. Against Ohio State, the Hoosiers were able to overcome it. But not today.
The Michigan 2nd inning did the Hoosiers in and they couldn't recover. After an out to start the inning, the Wolverines singled, stole second, and walked, which set up a three-run home run by Johnny Slater. Michigan starter Brett Adcock pitched a gem, going 6.1 IP and giving up just three hits and one run.
That Indiana run came in the top of the 7th after Indiana had left three runners on base over the two previous innings. Sowers and Dedelow singled to lead the inning, which accounted for half of Indiana's hits on the entire day, and a SAC bunt and groundout eventually scored Sowers. But trading two outs for one run in a 4-0 game didn't help the Hoosiers enough.
In the 8th, they got two runners on base with two outs and brought up Sowers, the only Hoosiers who had a good day at the plate. But a weak grounder to the pitcher ended the threat and essentially the game. Michigan's everything-man Jacob Cronenworth retired the Hoosiers 1-2-3 in the 9th and send them to an elimination game that takes place Thursday morning at 10 a.m. EST.
Indiana will face the loser of the Iowa-Ohio State contest in that elimination game.
WHAT DID WE LEARN?
1. Jake Kelzer was made for the bullpen. Last Thursday, he went 3.0 IP in the 7th, 8th, and 9th to get the save against Ohio State. On Wednesday, although he allowed five hits, he limited Michigan to one run in his four relief innings. It could be that he doesn't have a starter mentality, it could be that his stuff works better when pitchers have adjusted to something else already. But whatever it is, Kelzer is infinitely better out of the bullpen than he is as a starter. Regardless of how many more games Indiana plays this season, this is a huge discovery for Lemonis as he will lose at least Harrison and Halstead out of his bullpen before next season.
2. The offense is too inconsistent. It's not like we're learning this for the first time, but this was a healthy reminder. The offense hasn't looked this anemic since a four-game stretch where they scored only ten runs at the end of March (Louisville, and three games at Iowa) or the week that included four losses (two to Michigan State, one to Evansville, one to Indiana State) at the end of April. If the offense can't consistently score five or six runs per game, this team can't go very far. And nothing that they've done all season suggests that they can score that many on regular basis.
3. Thursday is everything. We won't know until all the Wednesday games across the country have finished, but you have to imagine that Indiana will drop quite a bit in the RPI after losing to Michigan (RPI: 81). The five teams that D1Baseball.com has projected as the first five teams out of the field of 64 have the following RPI ranks: 22, 31, 50, 51, and 61. That puts Indiana (RPI: 34) right in the middle. Wednesday's loss may drop them out of the Top-40. One more tomorrow might push them closer to 50, and put them right back on the bubble. And not playing Friday through Sunday would make for one long wait until the selections on Monday.