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Indiana baseball preview and weekend thread: Cal State Fullerton

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The Hoosiers came out strong to start their season, then followed it up with two dud performances. In possibly their biggest non-conference series this year, the Hoosiers have a big challenge ahead of them.

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

What You Need to Know

Who: Indiana Hoosiers (1-2, 0-0) at Cal State Fullerton (1-2, 0-0)

Where: Goodwin Field, Fullerton, California

When: Friday, 10 p.m. ET; Saturday, 9 p.m. ET; Sunday, 3 p.m. ET

Video | Audio | Live Stats

What In The World Happened?

Last weekend couldn't have begun any better for the Indiana Hoosiers. The first four at-bats of the season went walk, walk, RBI single, homerun as IU raced away to a 14-4 win on Friday against Middle Tennessee State, collecting 16 hits in the process.

Then, they proceeded to score 6 runs and have just 13 hits combined in the final two games, both one-run losses in extra innings (3-2 in 11 innings in game one, 5-4 in 10 innings in game two).

Obviously put, last weekend was a big disappointment.

The positives are that the Hoosiers started strong offensively in every game, scoring 14 of their 20 runs in the first five innings of the game. The bad news is they gave up all but one run across the final five innings, raising some questions about the Hoosiers' bullpen in the process.

The problem now for the Hoosiers is that they travel to Fullerton to take on the Titans, a team that came into the season ranked but dropped two of three themselves last weekend.

With a weak schedule this year, this weekend's games take on even more importance as the Hoosiers need to grab some quality wins for a potential tournament resume.

If there was a positive over the weekend, it was Kyle Hart's performance in game one on the mound. The senior struck out seven in five innings, walked just one, gave up just one hit early on and retired the final 15 batters he faced. He will take the ball in game one this weekend.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: Kyle Hart (1-0) vs. Blake Quinn (0-1)

Saturday: Evan Bell (0-1) vs. John Gavin (0-1)

Sunday: Caleb Baragar (0-0) vs. Colton Eastman (1-0)

Outlook

It's hard to call a series a must-win in late February, but this was an important series for the Hoosiers even before they dropped their opening series. Taking two of three from the Titans would get the Hoosiers back on track and ease some concerns, at least for the short-term.

This will also serve as a measuring stick for Indiana as they come up against a team and program that have a rich tradition and a perennial contender, having made the College World Series last year and four times since 2006.