Four straight series wins, plus a climb back into first place in the Big Ten standings equals a return to the major polls for Indiana baseball.
The Hoosiers appeared in both the Baseball America and D1Baseball.com top 25 rankings on Monday, landing at No. 23 in the former and No. 24 in the latter. IU is the only Big Ten team to receive placement in both polls.
Head coach Jeff Mercer’s club is coming off a big weekend that saw the Hoosiers take two of three from Iowa to start what will be a pivotal month of baseball against the top half of the conference. Baseball America writes:
Indiana won a crucial Big Ten series against Iowa at home last weekend, and in the process, moved into sole possession of first place in the Big Ten standings. A comeback came up short in a game 1 loss, so the offense made sure a comeback wouldn’t be necessary by blitzing Iowa pitching early. In the second game, Indiana scored eight runs in the first two innings, so even as Iowa was doing some scoring of its own, the Hoosiers never trailed and held on for a 12-6 win. Second baseman Paul Toetz went 3-for-5 and third baseman Cole Barr was 2-for-3 with a home run. Lefthander Ty Bothwell was excellent out of the bullpen, throwing four scoreless frames to make sure the Hawkeyes didn’t make a late push. It was a similar story on Sunday, when the Hoosiers went up 7-2 after four innings. Iowa did make more of a run in that one, but IU held on for a 12-8 victory. Toetz was 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, and Barr and DH Ethan Vecrumba had homers. A tough pod in Piscataway looms this weekend, with games against Rutgers and Nebraska on deck.
Indeed, as BA notes, it’ll be a challenging trip to New Jersey this weekend. Rutgers took the season opener from IU back in March, and just polished off an impressive sweep of Nebraska in Lincoln. It marked the first time the Huskers have been swept in the Big Ten since 2016.
So, one way or the other, it’ll be an interesting week ahead for the conference frontrunners.