Friday night, Jake Kelzer and Scott Effross teamed up to out pitch Maryland starter Mike Shawaryn, who was 10-0 entering the game. They got the game to Luke Harrison in the 8th. In a 6-5 game, he loaded the bases with 2 outs, so Ryan Halstead came in for a 4-out save and got just that to hand Shawaryn his first loss of the season, and give Indiana its first truly big win in conference play.
Saturday, there was no late inning drama. Kyle Hart made his longest start of the season (5.0 IP) and the Indiana offense put up 13 runs in an 11-run win. It was just the second time in Big Ten play and 3rd time since the end of the Fullerton series that Indiana has scored 10+ runs.
Where that leaves Indiana entering Sunday's series finale is 56th in the D1baseball.com daily RPI Rankings. That is range in the RPI is otherwise known as the bubble.
D1Baseball made note of this in its "Ten Thoughts" column from last evening, where they asked "Is it too late for Indiana?" Take a look at the (free) article yourself, but the summary of the answer to that question is that Indiana probably needs to win seven of its last nine games, or at the very least, three of its last four Big Ten contests. A 3-1 finish in the Big Ten would put IU at 11-11 in the conference, and .500 would look a lot better to the committee than sub-.500.
The first opportunity to take another step toward the postseason comes at 11 a.m. today as the Hoosiers look for the sweep at Maryland. Manager Chris Lemonis says the Hoosiers aren't thinking about a sweep, but rather that they just look at every game as one game. But he and his club know how big of a deal a sweep of No. 20 Maryland would be and how far it could go in the minds of the committee.
But even if the Hoosiers fall today, their second series win since Fullerton (a sweep of Rutgers being the other) could not have come at a better time. And with two big series left at home against Long Beach State (who is struggling as much as Indiana has been) and Ohio State (still No. 14 in RPI, even after losing their first two at Illinois this weekend), Indiana can jump into the 40s in the RPI and really put pressure on the committee to let this team in.
So, as much as I've written this team off in the past couple weeks, they still have a chance. They found their two best wins in two months at the best possible time, something I did not think was possible for a team that lacked focus and effort. But it was possible. And now, so is an at-large bid.
And as I've said all year, with that pitching, if they get in. . .
Here's the info you need for today's game:
WHAT: Indiana at No. 20 Maryland
WHERE: Bob "Turtle" Smith Stadium
WHEN: 11:00 a.m. EST
HOW TO WATCH: Big Ten Network (the real one, not the crap online where you have to pay beyond what you already pay to have it provided with your cable or satellite.)