Indiana Hoosiers (27-17-2, 10-7-1) at Kentucky Wildcats (32-16, 15-9)
Cliff Hagan Stadium, Lexington, Kentucky
Tuesday, May 9, 2017, 7:00 p.m. ET; SEC Network
On Tuesday night, Indiana baseball will head to Lexington to tangle with the No. 9 Kentucky Wildcats in a midweek battle that will not only serve as a great measuring stick for the Hoosiers, but could, with a win, be sufficient to lock up an NCAA Tournament bid.
The Hoosiers will trot out their most experienced starter in Brian Hobbie, who, whether due to his season-long struggles or the magnitude of this midweek contest, saw his Saturday starting spot lost to Cal Krueger, at least for one day against Xavier over the weekend. Kentucky will start Indiana-native and Wapahani HIgh School graduate Zack Thompson, who is having a tremendous freshman year in Lexington, having gone 5-2 in 10 starts.
But Tuesday night probably won’t be about the pitchers. Rather, it will be about two clubs that absolutely pound the baseball. The Wildcats score over eight runs per game and have cranked 52 home runs on the season. Indiana scores just under six runs per game and also thrives thanks to the long ball, having 55 jacks to date.
For Hobbie and the Hoosier battery, special attention will need to be paid to Kentucky 1B Evan White, who is hitting a whopping .391 on the season with 22 extra-base hits and 25 RBIs. He’s reaching base nearly every other time he comes to the plate, sporting an OB% of .472. OF Tristan Pompey could also give Indiana headaches. He’s hitting .372 with 7 HR and 34 RBI and gets on base even more often than White.
If the Hoosiers can shut down the Kentucky offense, though, and leave Lexington with a win, it could do wonders for their postseason hopes. It would spring them into the Top-20 of the RPI and bring them to an even 3-3 against opponents in the Top-25 of the RPI. Then, with seven contests left — six seeming cupcakes with Penn State and Ohio State, as well a midweek battle with Louisville — the Hoosiers could conceivably need just three or four wins to avoid disaster and be sitting pretty for an NCAA Tournament bid.