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Three Things: IU bounces back against Illinois

The Hoosiers and Illini only managed to squeeze in two games this weekend. But it’s all good! IU won them both.

Auston Matricardi

Inclement weather on Sunday turned what was supposed to be a three-game series into an abbreviated two-game set.

We’ll count it as a sweep all the same.

IU made the most of both of its opportunities to bounce back from last weekend’s forgettable trip to Ohio State, winning back-to-back games against Illinois. The Hoosiers took Friday’s opener, 6-4, before no-hitting the Illini on Saturday, 8-0.

Here are Three Things:

Friday was just what this team needed

Lightning in the area forced IU and Illinois to leave the playing area at Bart Kaufman Field for nearly two hours with the score tied at 4-4 in the top of the eighth inning. When the teams returned, Indiana catcher Collin Hopkins made sure the wait was worth it.

After Kip Fougerousse laced a two-out single up the middle, Hopkins got ahold of a fastball over the middle of the plate and blasted it over the left field fence for the walk-off win. Hopkins, the Hoosiers’ No. 9 hitter, entered the weekend hitting just .074 (2-for-27), so he was something of an unlikely hero. And yet, of his three hits this season, two have been homers. So he’s got a bit of pop.

His latest homer was just what IU needed. After five straight losses, the Hoosiers were looking for something to go their way. The series-opening win was crucial, and the manner in which it unfolded seemed to give IU a bit of a jolt. As our Auston Matricardi tweeted earlier in the weekend, we could look back on Friday night as a turning point in the season. Either way, in the short term, it ended a skid and set the tone for a bounce-back weekend of baseball in Bloomington.

The kids were alright

Of the eight runs Indiana scored in Game 2, six were produced by freshmen. Kip Fougerousse and Morgan Colopy. Fougerousse got the scoring started with a two-run single before Colopy came through with a two-run homer and a two-run base hit of his own. Two other freshmen, Paul Toetz (two) and Tank Espalin (one), scored runs for the Hoosiers, who were set to trot out a lineup featuring freshmen in the Nos. 4-8 slots on Sunday before the finale was postponed.

Speaking of Espalin, Saturday marked the college debut for the highly-touted newcomer. Although he didn’t record a hit, he did work a leadoff walk in the bottom of the seventh before scoring on an error.

There’s a whole lot of intriguing talent in Indiana’s youngest classes, and we’re starting to see exactly what these guys are capable of adding to the lineup.

How ‘bout the pitching?

We kind of buried the lede here, huh? Saturday was a historic night for IU’s baseball program, which posted the school’s first no-hitter in nearly 37 years. We wrote a separate post on the no-no, so click here to read a little more about the tag team effort of McCade Brown and Braydon Tucker.

But let’s shout out the Friday hurlers, too. Tommy Sommer scattered eight hits during his series-opening start, but limited damage to just three runs while striking out five. John Modugno threw 16 of his 22 pitches for strikes over his two scoreless innings and Nathan Stahl worked around the delay to deliver two scoreless frames to close down the game.

IU is back at it next weekend with a three-game series at Northwestern.