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Hoosiers looking to make up ground in pod vs. Nebraska, Ohio State

IU sits 1.5 games behind Nebraska in third place entering play on Friday

Auston Matricardi

With four losses in its past six games, Indiana has some work to do in this weekend’s pod against first-place Nebraska and Ohio State. The Hoosiers enter play in third place in the Big Ten standings, a game and a half behind the conference-leading Cornhuskers who they’ll see in the first two games on Friday and Saturday nights. A double-dip against the Buckeyes will follow on Sunday evening and Monday night.

Here’s what you ought to know heading into the Bloomington pod:

Errors are mounting

Swingman Ty Bothwell authored a nice start to Tuesday’s makeup game against Illinois — and it would’ve looked even nicer if not for an errant fielding attempt behind him that helped two runs score in the top of the second inning. In what turned out to be a one-run ballgame, it was a crucial, decisive mistake.

Simply put, IU needs a cleaner effort in the field this weekend with Nebraska and Ohio State in town. Since the first meeting with the Huskers at the Rutgers pod on May 8, the Hoosiers have committed fielding miscues in six consecutive games — a skid that began with five errors against Nebraska. Granted, a few of those mistakes were due to the conditions on a rainy Saturday in New Jersey. Even so, IU has been bit by some sloppiness of late. And, for what it’s worth, the Hoosiers committed eight errors in Ohio State’s four-game sweep of the Hoosiers in early April.

Over the past four games, Hoosier pitchers have watched seven unearned runs cross the plate. For IU to climb back toward the top of the league standings, that obviously can’t continue.

Sommer slated to start opener

What’s that? Why is this news, you ask? Well, Sommer, who has opened each of the last 10 weekends, made an early exit from Friday’s start at Michigan due to a “fluke” — albeit seemingly minor — injury. That’s per SI Indiana’s Tom Brew, who reported last weekend that Sommer split a fingernail during the second inning of an eventual 2.1-inning outing.

The fingernail issue appears to be resolved, however, as Indiana lists Sommer as the starter for Friday’s first game. McCade Brown will get Saturday’s nod and Gabe Bierman will go on Sunday. IU has not yet settled on a starter for Monday.

Toetz on base

Freshman second baseman Paul Toetz has been a revelation inside IU’s lineup this season, and after getting Tuesday’s game off, he brings a reached-base streak of 20 consecutive games into this weekend.

Toetz leads the Big Ten in doubles (16) and ranks 10th in the country in doubles per game (.44). His total number of doubles is already a school record for two-baggers in conference play.

You can watch these games!

For the past two weeks, I thought this was supposed to be Memorial Day weekend. And buddy? I was pumped. Part of my confusion — beyond simply being an incorrigible dummy — stemmed from looking at this weekend’s IU baseball schedule, seeing a Monday game scheduled for late May and foolishly connecting the dots from there. Obviously, I was wrong.

Why am I telling you this? I don’t know, honestly. I’m sort of just typing at this point. Although this isn’t the holiday weekend I erroneously anticipated it to be, there is some good news in the fact that all four games of the IU baseball pod will be televised by national outlets. That’s right, four straight Indiana baseball games will be carried by national outlets.

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Friday: vs. Nebraska, 8 p.m. ET | BTN
  • Saturday: vs. Nebraska, 6:30 p.m. ET | ESPNU
  • Sunday: vs. Ohio State, 5 p.m. ET | BTN
  • Monday: vs. Ohio State, 6 p.m. ET | BTN

Still in the field

Despite falling from first to third place in the standings, the Hoosiers are still projected as a No. 2 seed in next month’s NCAA Tournament. This week, Baseball America slotted IU in the South Bend Regional with projected host — and No. 6 overall seed — Notre Dame, No. 3 Indiana State and No. 4 Wright State.

D1Baseball.com, meanwhile, sees the Hoosiers making a longer trip to tournament play, projecting Indiana as a No. 3 seed in the Eugene Regional with host — and No. 10 overall seed — Oregon, No. 2 Pitt and No. 4 Stony Brook.