Though it, at times, seemed like things would go sideways for the Hoosiers over the weekend, they managed to take a big series win over fourth-place Iowa in Bloomington. The Hawkeyes took the opening game, 6-5, with the help of three errors from the Hoosiers in the field and six walks by Hoosier pitchers. From there, IU smoked Iowa, 12-6, on Saturday and then pulled away late on Sunday to win 12-8.
Here are three things from the weekend:
1. Is the lineup set?
A few weeks ago, IU skipper Jeff Mercer was still looking for a regular lineup. It would seem that since then, for all intents and purposes, he’s found one — or at least a group to constitute one. This weekend, as well as last weekend against Minnesota and the weekend before against Northwestern, we’ve seen the same nine guys combine in various manners to form the starting lineup for IU. Some have been mainstays from years past — Grant Richardson, Drew Ashley, Cole Barr and Collin Hopkins — while the rest are younger players getting their first extended stretch of playing time at the college level — Paul Toetz, Morgan Colopy, Tyler Van Pelt (who’s technically a sophomore but also technically a senior), Kip Fougerousse and Tank Espalin. So far the group has seen plenty of success while going 7-2. So maybe this is the squad to stick with moving forward.
2. ETHAN VECRUMBA!
Iowa seemed to have the Hoosiers on the ropes a bit on Sunday, cutting a 9-5 lead in the 8th inning down to a 9-7 lead and hitting the IU relievers like few teams have hit them to this point in the season. Then Ethan Vecrumba happened.
The second-year Hoosier entered as a pinch hitter in the seventh inning, striking out swinging. But the move paid off in the eighth when the lineup got back around to him with two on and two out. He took the first pitch and annihilated it.
Vecrumba came to IU with plenty of hype after a promising high school career at Edgewood. I, personally, was excited to see what he could do as a Hoosier after seeing him play a few times previously. Then he got off to a slow start. He hit .097 through 13 games as a freshman before the rest of the season was canceled. This season, he’s struggled to get on the field — Sunday’s appearance was just his sixth in 2021.
Maybe this home run is what gets him going in the cream and crimson. If it is, that’s a huge development because a Vecrumba that plays to his potential could be a major piece down the line.
3. Senior Weekend
IU celebrated a boatload of seniors ahead of Sunday’s game — Hopkins, Jacob Southern, Van Pelt, Tommy Sommer, Jordan Fucci, Ashley, Barr, Jeremy Houston, Grant Macciochi, Connor Manous, Braden Scott and Matt Litwicki among them.
From there, we proceeded to get good performances from some of those players. Hopkins dominated in the series finale, going 4-for-4 with three doubles and three runs scored. Barr was also big at the plate, going 2-for-4, smacking a two-run homer and driving in a run with a single, as well. Scott came in from the bullpen in the seventh to get a pair of outs without allowing a baserunner. Litwicki relieved him to start the eighth and got the final six outs for the Hoosiers, making some huge pitches along the way to lock down the win.
The Hoosiers will head to Piscataway next weekend, where they’ll play against rutger on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning, before facing Nebraska on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning
The Scarlet Knights have been a middle-of-the-pack team so far this season, meaning that they’re actually in the midst of one of their best campaigns since joining the Big Ten. They’re especially hot at the moment, however, coming off of series wins over Michigan in Ann Arbor and Nebraska in Lincoln. The Hoosiers split their two games with them during the season’s opening weekend in Minnesota.
Nebraska’s been one of the Big Ten’s best teams this season, right near the top of the standings with Michigan and Indiana, but they just finished getting swept by rutger at home on Scott Frost Day, of all days.