Cliff Hagan Stadium, Lexington, Kentucky
Friday, June 2, 2017, 7:00p.m. ET, Watch ESPN
Indiana’s seventh NCAA Tournament run will start with a true strength verses strength matchup when the Hoosiers and NC State take the field on Friday in Lexington, as Indiana’s high powered offense will go up against Wolfpack ace Johnny Peidmonte. The Hoosier offense has been well documented here at CQ, but just to recap some of the highlights, Indiana has averaged 5.99 runs per game, hit 67 home runs (2nd in Big Ten), and they own a .430 slugging percentage (3rd in Big Ten).
In Peidmonte, the Hoosiers will face a tough ace who has not given up more than 3 runs in any start this season. Peidmonte has also been great at limiting extra base hits, only giving up 14 in his 13 appearances. Peidmonte will make the Hoosiers work for their runs, and will make it difficult for Indiana to have one of their trademark big innings.
Chris Lemonis counters Peidmonte with his normal Friday starter Jonathon Stiever. Stiever has struggled as of late, having given up 13 runs in his last trio of starts against Penn St (3 runs), Ohio State (6 runs) and Minnesota (4 runs). For Indiana to have a shot to win, Stiever will have to regain his form from his previous 3 starts, where he pitched 17.2 innings of scoreless baseball against Michigan, Maryland, and Xavier, 3 teams that will also be playing in the NCAA Tournament this weekend.
Stiever will face a strong Wolfpack lineup, which, over the course of the season, has averaged 6.07 runs per game, hit for a .277 average, and blasted 58 home runs. The Pack is led by All-American shortstop Joe Dunand, who has hit for a .284 average with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs, to compile an impressive .619 slugging percentage, the latter 3 stats all tops on the Wolfpack ball club.
If Stiever can return to form and the Hoosier bats an put togather a rally or two against Peidmonte, Indiana should be able to start its NCAA Tournament run on the right note, and would face the winner of Friday afternoon’s game between Kentucky and Ohio on Saturday.