This article has been updated to reflect the postponement of Friday’s matchup between Indiana and Northeastern due to inclement weather
Springs Brooks Stadium, Conway, South Carolina
Saturday, March 2, 10 a.m.
Saturday, March 2, 1:30 p.m.
Sunday, March 3, TBA
This week Indiana hosted a pair of midweek games at Bart Kaufman Field, taking down Cincinnati on Tuesday and following that up with a win over Butler on Wednesday. After a weekend in Knoxville in which the Hoosier lineup struggled mightily, it put up 16 runs.
On Tuesday the Hoosiers scored seven runs in the win over the Bearcats, including a big third inning where they hung four runs on a two-run double from Ryan Fineman and a two-run homer by Cole Barr.
On Wednesday Indiana fell behind early, but a three-run shot from Matt Gorski, who made his return to the lineup following a leg injury and thrived, put the Hoosiers ahead and they never looked back. The day also saw big contributions from Logan Kaletha and Fineman at the dish.
In the Coastal Carolina Tournament the Hoosiers should face their stiffest competition of the season so far. They’ll see a trio of 2018 NCAA Tournament teams including one team that hosted a regional—Coastal Carolina—and another that probably should have hosted a regional—UConn.
Northeastern has had an interesting start to the season. So far they’ve lost a series to Houston Baptist, took a midweek win against Missouri and had a two-game sweep against South Dakota State. The Huskies fell 7-4 to UConn in the opening game of the tournament before a weather delay forced their matchup with IU to be postponed to Saturday.
UConn opened their season with a series win against then-No. 4 Louisville, but lost two of three last weekend against the College of Charleston. This will be the first weekend that the Huskies will have their ace Mason Feole available. The All-American missed the first two weekends rehabbing a triceps injury. His return should be a big boost for their depth on the mound. Thanks to the postponement of IU’s first game of the weekend this is expected to be one of two games on the day for both teams.
Coastal Carolina ranks among the best teams in the nation, but they haven’t played a terribly tough schedule thus far. The highest profile game of the season so far for the Chanticleers was a home showdown with NC State that they lost in extra innings. It’ll be interesting to see how Coastal fares this weekend leading up to Sunday’s matchup with Indiana, as they’ll take on No. 25 Illinois and UConn beforehand.
The Hoosiers will need some of their key players to begin rounding into form at the plate if they want to have some success this weekend. Matt Gorski has been solid and having him in the lineup will be a big boost. Logan Kaletha had a pair of good performances in the midweek games, but he’s hit just .241 this season and gotten on base at a .324 clip. We all know that Matt Lloyd is among the best sluggers in the nation, but heading into the weekend the utilityman is below the Mendoza line, has 10 strikeouts, and hasn’t gone yard yet in seven games. Ryan Fineman provided a pair of clutch hits against Cincinnati and Butler, but he’s barely above .200 on the season as well. Overall this team has struck out 100 times in eight games and it has a .181 batting average. Those things are going to need at least moderate improvement as the season goes on, and they’ll surely see it.
Another interesting thing to watch will be how junior righthander Tanner Gordon performs on Saturday against UConn. He’s had a couple of outings this season in which he’s shown the reason for all of the hype around him, but various factors have led to him getting tagged with the loss. If he can pitch well and IU can put it all together around him that could be a big win for the Hoosiers over the Huskies.
Hoosier fans should expect at least one win this weekend. Pauly Milto on the bump against Northeastern seems as close to a sure thing as you can get in what’s a weird, unpredictable game like baseball. If Indiana goes two-for-three or sweeps through the tournament that isn’t exactly a tournament it would be a good sign of what this team is capable of.