Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: Big Ten/Big East Challenge

The Good:
- Mike McKinley in Relief
In picking up the first career victory in what we hope will be a long, successful career in an IU uniform, McKinley threw 2.1 innings of perfect baseball and kept the Hoosiers in position to ultimately walk away with a big win.

- Walker Stadler in Game 2
Although he was tagged with the loss, the freshman right-hander posted his second consecutive strong start against Villanova. Stadler gave up 3 runs on 6 hits and 3 walks with 3 strikeouts in 5.2 innings of work on Saturday. While by no means brilliant, if the Hoosiers can continue to get this kind of effort out of Stadler, their prospects for success will be much improved.

- Tyler Rogers at the Plate
After the Hoosiers got virtually no offensive production last weekend out of the middle infield, it was nice to see Tyler Rogers go 4-8 with a double and a pair of RBI while striking out just twice for the weekend to follow up an 0-3, 3 strikeout effort in San Diego.

- Ethan Wilson on the Mound - 2 IP, 0 hits
The infielder turned pitcher threw 2 more innings of scoreless relief against UConn, and he has now thrown 3 innings of scoreless, hitless, walkless relief on the young season. For his efforts, Coach Smith has tabbed Wilson to start in Game 3 of this weekend's Music City Challenge against Vanderbilt.

- Jerrud Sabourin Named to All-Challenge Team
The junior was selected as the team's first baseman after hitting .462 with 2 doubles and 4 RBI for the weekend, including a 4-hit, 3-RBI effort in the thrilling victory over WVU.

The Bad:
- 9 Errors in 3 Games
With IU's youth, inexperience and relative lack of depth on the mound, there is no room for defensive miscues, especially in such large quantities. That is now 16 errors on the season for the Hoosiers, and that number is obviously far too high for a team that can ill-afford such mistakes.

- Michael Earley's Lack of Production
Coming off a strong summer, the senior just hasn't produced at the plate thus far. Earley went 0-6 with 2 strikeouts for the weekend, and he now has just 2 hits in 15 at-bats (.133 average) in 2010. It is still very early, so there is time for Early to turn things around. Let's hope he does so sooner rather than later.

- 1 Win in 3 Games
After a thrilling come-from-behind victory against WVU to open the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, I expected IU to come home with at least 2 wins for the weekend. Bad losses plagued IU a season ago, and while Villanova may in fact be better than some people thought, the Hoosiers still must avoid bad losses and win games they are supposed to win moving forward.

The Ugly:
- Matt Igel's Pitching Line
Expectations were pretty high for Igel coming into the season, but so far the sophomore left-hander hasn't come anywhere close to delivering. Against UConn, Igel yielded 6 runs on 5 hits and 4 walks with just 1 strikeout in 1+ innings of work, dropping him to a paltry 0-2 with a 33.00 ERA, 11 walks and only 1 strikeout on the year.

- Loss to Villanova
Picked to finish 11th out of 12 teams in the Big East, Villanova is a team the Hoosiers should have beaten, and at the very least IU should have been in the game. Despite a strong start from Stadler, the offense couldn't get anything going, and the defense struggled mightily to the tune of 4 errors. That combination doesn't lead to many wins.

- Outscored 12-2 Combined in First Two Innings
It's pretty difficult to win games when you dig yourself in big holes early. On the season the Hoosiers have yieled 27 total runs in the first two innings and scored just 5 themselves. Give the team credit for battling back in both the West Virginia and UConn games, but IU simply can't afford to get behind big in games right off the bat.

- 25 Runs Allowed in 3 Games
At the end of the day, you can't expect to be very successful when you give up over 8 runs per game on average. Defense and pitching need to improve overall across the board.

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