Who? Indiana Hoosiers (10-8-1) at Northwestern Wildcats (5-14)
Where? Rocky and Bernice Miller Park, Evanston, Illinois
When? Friday, March 24, 1:00 p.m. ET (DH); Saturday, March 25, 3:00 p.m. ET
Indiana will look to keep the momentum going this weekend after picking up a solid home win against a Cincinnati squad who was riding high after their upset of #1 Louisville.
The Hoosiers got back on track after returning from Hawaii by squeaking out a 3-2 win over the visiting Bearcats in which they received a solid pitching performance by a committee of arms, and Jake Matheny came up clutch with a two-run single in the fourth. Indiana will hope to get good pitching again against Northwestern, who is 5-14 and has lost three straight..
The Wildcat offense is led by freshman infielder Alex Erro, who is off to a hot start after batting .366 with two home runs and seven RBIs. As a whole, though, Northwestern has struggled offensively, with a team batting average of just .234, and having only four home runs to go along with it. But senior Jake Schieber has stepped up recently and provided a solid spark offensively, hitting .429 and tallying six hits in Northwestern’s last four games.
For the Hoosiers, Alex Krupa is looking to get back to his hitting ways after a frustrating 0-4 performance against Cincinnati, and Logan Sowers is still looking for answers as his batting average remains under .200 for the season. Craig Dedelow will attempt to provide power in the middle of the order as usual. He leads the Hooisers with 5 home runs and carries a .544 slugging percentage, good for second on the team.
What to Expect
Northwestern is really dragging coming into the series with the Hoosiers, having lost three in a row and four of their last five. They’ll be looking to ride guys like Erro and Schieber on offense, and hope their starting pitching will start to step up. Their pitching has fallen on some tough times, and they come into the series with the Hoosiers carrying a 5.48 ERA as a team, so the Wildcat’s pitching staff will have to bring their “A” game to quiet an Indiana offense that can explode at any moment.
As far as Indiana is concerned, the Hoosiers will need Alex Krupa and Craig Dedelow to continue their solid output, as well as having Jake Matheny and Matt Gorski chipping in. The Hoosier pitching staff will be looking to build off of a solid performance against Cincinnati, where they limited the Bearcats to just two runs on five hits. IU is an even .500 on the road in this young season, going 5-5-1 in eleven games away from home. They have won three of their last four on the road, and will hope to carry that good form through this weekend’s series.
If the Hoosiers are going to start the Big Ten off right and take advantage of this opening matchup, they’ll need to take at least two of the three games. Anything less will be a great disappointment.