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Hoosiers to open season in Memphis

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The first series of the Jeff Mercer era will be against the Memphis Tigers this weekend and it’s one the Hoosiers should win.

Hoosier baseball is back. Indiana is scheduled to open their season on Friday at 5 p.m.
Auston Matricardi

Who

Indiana Hoosiers (40-19, 14-9 B1G - 2018) at Memphis Tigers (20-36, 5-19 AAC - 2018)

Where

FedEx Park, Memphis, Tennessee

When

Saturday, February 16, 1 p.m.

Saturday, February 16, After the conclusion of game one

Sunday, February 17, 2 p.m.

Probable Starters

Saturday: RHP Pauly Milto (8-2, 2.03 ERA) vs LHP Hunter Smith (3-2, 3.08 ERA)

Saturday: RHP Tanner Gordon (9-2, 2.06 ERA) vs RHP Alex Hicks (2-9, 6.44 ERA)

Sunday: LHP Tommy Sommer (2-1, 3.07 ERA) vs TBD

Watch | Listen | Live Stats | @IndianaBase | @MemphisBaseball

Preview

This weekend the Hoosiers will meet the Memphis Tigers for just the third, fourth, and fifth times in program history. The series between the two program is knotted up at 1-1 heading into the three-game set. The Hoosiers took the first matchup 9-8 back in 2005 and the Tigers evened it up two years later with a 5-3 win.

A big question for Memphis will be its starting rotation. Johnathan Bowlan has moved on from Memphis, he was a second round pick for the Kansas City Royals, as has Riley Cabral who is now in the Houston Astros organization. Hunter Smith will lead the way for the Tigers on the bump. He led the team with a 3.08 ERA last season and recorded 63 strikeouts. After him, things could get a bit dicey for Memphis.

The Tiger lineup returns many of its contributors from last season. Memphis returns four of its top five hitters from 2018, including Cale Hennemann who led the team by hitting .299 last season.

The Hoosiers will debut a new look offense in this series, with less of a focus on the longball and more balance as the new philosophy. They return many of the key cogs from last year’s lineup and could put runs on the board in bunches if they get off to a hot start.

There’s also plenty of reason to be excited about the Hoosier pitching staff. Pauly Milto should be a Big Ten Pitcher of the Year candidate, JUCO transfer Tanner Gordon has received quite a bit of preseason buzz, and the bullpen duo of Cal Krueger and Matt Lloyd should be as stout as ever.

What to Expect

A series win for the Hoosiers at the least. Memphis had a rough season in 2018 and lost three players to the draft including a pair of pitchers. Don’t be surprised to see this Hoosier lineup put up runs in bunches and it’s certainly possible, if not likely, that they could leave Memphis with a sweep.