As the third season of the Chris Lemonis begins to draw near, a few big pieces of news have broken recently.
Riley Crean (yes, that Riley Crean) commits to Indiana
A strong right-handed pitcher at Bloomington North, Riley Crean announced last week that he will keep his talents in Bloomington and join Lemonis’s club in the Fall of 2017. With a fastball in the 80s and breaking stuff that can get hitters twisted like a pretzel, Crean will come to the Hoosiers with tremendous potential to make a difference early and often.
Proud to say that I will be playing College Baseball at Indiana University thank you to everyone who helped me throughout the years pic.twitter.com/MRrcoC2jz7— Riley Crean (@riley_crean343) November 10, 2016
Indiana’s 2017 recruiting class is widely viewed as the Big Ten’s best and a Top-25 caliber class in the country.
Isaiah Pasteur leaves the program and the university
Westminster, Maryland, native Isaiah Pasteur, who started 70 games in his freshman and sophomore seasons in Bloomington has left the university. While Pasteur was a mainstay in the Indiana lineup for two full seasons, he provided little production his sophomore season, hitting just .192 with 14 RBIs and no home runs, all significant decreases from his freshman numbers.
While no official word has been given as to why Pasteur has left the program, and transferred to George Washington, it is easy (and probably not wrong) to speculate that the combination of Pasteur’s limited production and the arrival of standout SS Jeremy Houston (who sources close to the program say Lemonis is wild about, and who Fall ball showed to be a rare Big Ten talent) amounted to writing on the wall that Pasteur would be squeezed out by a roster that will demand the following players get significant playing time: Houston, Alex Krupa, Tony Butler, Austin Cangelosi, Ryan Fineman, Logan Sowers, Craig Dedelow, and Luke Miller. In addition to those players, Chris Lowe, Scotty Bradley, and Laren Eustace, along with other newcomers, such as Jake Matheny, will challenge for playing time. Simply put, it’s not difficult to see that there probably wasn’t room for Pasteur in the 2017 lineup.
Hoosiers release tough 2017 schedule
In 2015, Indiana’s tough schedule allowed them to overcome a putrid month of play and still qualify for the NCAA Tournament, where they put up a fight in Nashville. In 2016, an embarrassingly weak schedule kept the Hoosiers out of the dance thanks to another disastrous stretch of baseball.
In 2017, Lemonis and his team have returned to the 2015 model. The Hoosiers will start the campaign in Surprise, Arizona, where they’ll face Gonzaga twice, Duke, and then will have a big early season test with Oregon State, who also qualified for the 2013 College World Series with Indiana.
The Hoosiers will then head to Boca Raton for a three-game set with 2016 tournament team Florida Atlantic. Indiana will have a couple weeks to settle into the season before Big Ten play starts as they face Cincinnati, Samford, Evansville, and Middle Tennessee State, and play four in Honolulu against Hawaii, all non-tournament teams who will allow Lemonis to get his newcomers some substantial playing time before the Big Ten season starts.
The Big Ten slate will see a mixture of quality and pitiful teams, with Nebraska, Michigan, Minnesota, Maryland, and Ohio State countered by Penn State, Purdue, and Northwestern. Midweek games with Indiana State, Evansville, Ball State, Kentucky, and Louisville, as well as a 3-game off-weekend set with Xavier will provide plenty of tests as well.
Altogether, while this schedule is devoid of a big three-game set with a Cal State Fullerton or a Stanford, as we’ve seen in the past few seasons, it is littered with quality opponents who will challenge the Hoosiers and allow margin for making the tournament while enduring some growing pains, a luxury 2016’s schedule simply didn’t provide. A 2015-like performance and record, you have to think, would get the Hoosiers back into the dance.