The Indiana baseball Hoosiers hosted the Boilermakers of Purdue this past weekend for a three game set and came away with a win (12-11 in Game 2) and two losses (12-10 in Game 1, 10-7 in Game 3) for the series. This series was one that IU needed badly, but unfortunately things didn't work in the Hoosiers' favor. While Indiana easily could have won all three games, they were only able to get it done in Game 2 on Saturday, and as a result, they now sit in a three-way tie for 6th in the Big Ten with Michigan State and Penn State at 7-8 in conference play and 21-21 overall. Here's a breakdown on what was good, what was bad and what was ugly this weekend:
- 29 Runs in 3 Games - After being shut-out twice a weekend ago at Minnesota, the Hoosier offense roared back this past weekend against Purdue. IU's hitters knocked around Purdue's pitching all weekend long, but unfortunately the Hoosier hurlers couldn't tame the Boilermakers at the plate, thus the reason for IU's 1-2 mark for the series.
- Micah Johnson - In his first match-up with arch-rival Purdue, the freshman went 9-17 with 2 doubles, a triple, a pair of home runs, 7 runs scored, and 5 runs batted in. Not a bad weekend to say the least.
- 24 Strikeouts in 3 Games - I've harped on this before, but IU's hitters continue to give up at-bats at the plate. While the Hoosiers did put up plenty of runs on the board against Purdue, with the way things have been going on the mound for Indiana, the pitchers need all the help they can get. That means cutting down on strikeouts offensively.
- 4 Errors in Games 1 and 2 - While the 2 errors committed by the Hoosier defense didn't cost IU in Game 2, the pair of errors made by Micah Johnson and Matt Ernest in Game 1 led to 2 unearned runs, which ultimately proved to be the difference in the final outcome (a 12-10 loss)
- 33 Runs in 3 Games - At the end of the day, Indiana's pitching staff simply doesn't have the depth and talent necessary to compete with the Big Ten's elite teams this season. Yes, there are bright spots and solid performances for the most part each and every weekend, but overall IU's pitching continues to be a big weakness for this team.
- Drew Leininger - After dominating throughout the first half of the season, the sophomore left-hander has now been roughed up in 2 consecutive starts. Leininger gave up 11 runs on 10 hits, 2 walks, a HBP, 4 wild pitches and a balk. Obviously, he struggled mightily. I certainly hope he gets things back on track next weekend at Northwestern, but I will admit I am concerned that Leininger is either injured or hit some sort of "wall" and that his recent performances might negatively impact his confidence moving forward. Hopefully I am wrong, though.
Next Up - Northwestern
It's finals week at IU, so that means no mid-week games for the Hoosiers. Next up on the Big Ten docket is Northwestern, the surprise of the Big Ten in 2010. The Wildcats entered conference action at the bottom of the standings and little was expected of them in Big Ten play. However, Northwestern has jumped out to a 9-6 conference record entering next weekend's showdown with the Hoosiers and is currently tied with Ohio State for first place in the Big Ten. Needless to say, next weekend's tilt will be a crucial series for the Hoosiers as they look to make a move up in the standings and solidify their place as one of the top six teams in the conference.