The Indiana baseball Hoosiers opened conference play last weekend by playing host to Michigan and walked away with a win and a pair of losses for the series. In this edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, I will provide some insight on the Michigan series. Overall, I thought the Hoosiers played pretty well this weekend, but there are definitely areas where this team needs to be much better as the Big Ten season progresses.
26 Runs and a Win in Game 3 - Needing a win in the worst kind of way, virtually everything went right for IU on Easter Sunday. The 26 runs were the most an IU team has ever scored in Big Ten play.
Offense - 40 runs, 55 hits, 12 extra-base hits, and a .423 team batting average are stats that made for impressive weekend for IU at the plate. Five Hoosier regulars (Tyler Rogers, Josh Lyon, Michael Basil, Alex Dickerson and Jerrud Sabourin) hit over .500 for the series, and while these stats are certainly inflated by Sunday's record-setting performance, it just goes to show what the Hoosier hitters are capable of.
Tyler Rogers - The senior second baseman started all 3 games against Michigan and made the most of his time on the field. In 13 trips to the plate, Rogers went 8-11 with 2 doubles, a home run, 8 runs batted, a walk, a HBP and only a single strikeout. Great weekend all around for Rogers!
Defense - No errors in 3 games. Great effort by IU in the field this weekend. The defense has been sketchy at times thus far, but I can't say enough good things about Indiana's glove work against Michigan, especially when you consider that the Wolverines committed a whopping 11 errors over the weekend. The Hoosier hurlers need all the support they can get behind them, and this past weekend's performance was certainly a step in the right direction for IU's defense.
1 Win in 3 Games - Simply put, at the very least IU should have won 2 games this weekend. They let Game 1 get away on Friday, and that just can't happen moving forward if this team hopes to contend in conference play.
Chris Squires in Game 1 - The Hoosiers' normally reliable closer struggled in the series opener, and while he didn't take the loss, he was a big reason why this game even went to extra innings in the first place. Squires entered the game in the top half of the 7th and in 2.2 innings of work allowed 4 Wolverines to cross the plate, including the game-tieing and go-ahead runs in the 8th. Not what you would expect from a guy who had established himself as one of the top relievers in the Big Ten. Hopefully this performance was simply an aberration.
Brian Lambert - Lambert started all 3 games and in 8 at-bats recorded only a single hit while striking out 4 times (I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Lambert's lone hit was a 2-run home run, though). With everyone else seemingly clicking on all cylinders, Lambert had a pretty rough weekend. Hopefully he will rebound next weekend at Ohio State.
Pitching - The pitching wasn't great against Michigan, but it was definitely much-improved as the weekend progressed. After allowing 16 runs to start things off on Friday, the staff responded by allowing just 12 over the next 2 games combined. While allowing 6 runs per game is not exactly setting the world on fire, IU's offensive firepower does allow some room for error most days. For the weekend, the staff allowed 28 runs on 41 hits and 18 walks while striking out 27. The team ERA was 9.00 over those three games, and Michigan hit .345 for the series. While those numbers are skewed by Michigan's big outburst in Game 1, there is still significant room for improvement here. The return of Blake Monar to the bump will hopefully help out in a big way in this regard.
16 Runs Allowed in Game 1 - One would think that 10 runs would be more than enough to go home victorious, but such was not the case on Friday for the Hoosiers. Giving up 16 runs to the opposition in one game makes it pretty difficult to win, and that held true in the Big Ten opener. There's not much more that you can say about this performance out of the Hoosier Hurlers. Chalk it up as a learning experience and move on. Hopefully we won't see the Hoosiers on the wrong end of too many more lopsided scores the rest of the way.
Walks Allowed - IU's pitchers issued 18 bases on balls this weekend for an average of 6 per game. That is far too many free passes for a pitching staff that needs all the help it can get most days.