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Indiana Baseball: Hoosiers Bounce Back, Rout Iowa 12-6 to Even Series

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – It's regular season baseball, so saying that Indiana's game with Iowa on Saturday landed in that ''must win'' category would be overstating it a bit. But it sure helped that the Hoosiers came away with a 12-6 victory over the Hawkeyes to even the series.

Indiana (19-9) scored five runs in the first inning, and all nine starters had at least one hit. They also played an error-free game, which was nice after three miscues Friday night cost them in one-run loss.

It was just their second win all year against a team with a winning record in the Big Ten, and their first since the opening weekend. Indiana is 2-6 against teams over .500 and 17-3 against the bottom of the league.

The five runs right off the bat was huge.

"I think that gave us a lot of confidence, and we were ready to go from there,'' Indiana third baseman Cole Barr said. "We scored several runs in several innings. We just had to play some better baseball today. We kept leaning on them and we broke out.''

Second baseman Paul Toetz had three hits for the Hoosiers, and four others – center fielder Grant Richardson, third baseman Cole Barr, designated hitter Tyler Van Pelt and first baseman Kip Fougerousse – all had two hits each. The Hoosiers had 14 hits, including five doubles and a solo home run by Barr.

"I think momentum can definitely be a factor because it compounds the pressure on the pitcher,'' Van Pelt said. "It helps when everybody's hitting. A lot of guys were hitting balls hard and we're a good base-running team.''

Mercer has stayed with this same lineup for two weeks now, and he's getting production from top to bottom. That's a nice thing to see on the first day of May

"This is usually about the time you settle in with a lineup, but you don't know what you don't know in real time,'' Mercer said. "To be honest with you, me missing time (with COVID-19) stunted the growth of those guys, and I take full responsibility for that. "We are getting a lot better offensively, and it's starting to show, ever since the Illinois series (four weeks ago).

"All the things that aren't sexy, aren't fun, aren't Twitter highlights, those things are part of the offense too. So for those guys to see what wins games with a productive overall offense, you see it. One guy has to trust the guy behind to drive in a run if you move a guy over to third with a groundout to the right side with two strikes. That's a good at-bat, and we're doing more of that.''

Despite the early five-spot and a dozen runs, this still wasn't the easiest of wins. Starter McCade Brown struggled with his control, and the Hawkeyes were back in the game quickly. He walked four batters in the second inning alone, where the Hawkeyes scored three runs.

Indiana answered with three run of its own in the bottom of the second, and when Brown struggled again in the third, he got the quick hook, lasting a season-low 2 2/3 innings, and allowing five runs on six hits and five walks.

"We have great confidence in those guys. During the course of the season, you're going to have good days and bad days. Just because one or two days doesn't make a season with the offense, it's the same with the pitchers. They're going to be better and I have 100 percent confidence in that.''

Indiana's bullpen, which has been great all year, picked him up. John Modugno (2-1) pitched 2 1/3 innings, allowing just one run to pick up the win, and lefty Ty Bothwell got the save, throwing four innings of shutout ball, striking out five and allowing just two hits. It was the first save of his career.

"Those (bullpen) guys are outstanding. You have to coach every player. A couple of years ago, Ty Bothwell was nothing of the player he is now, but you keep coaching him hard and someday he's going to help us. Today was that day. He's an important pitcher for us, and he gives us the depth to need, and you can trust that.

"It was huge to (end the game with just Modugno and Bothwell) so now tomorrow we've got guys who haven't thrown yet and the guys from Friday can come back, too.''

The two teams are back at it on Sunday at Bart Kaufman Field, with the game starting at Noon ET. It's the best pitching matchup of the weekend, with Indiana's Gabe Bierman taking on Iowa left Cam Baumann. Due to COVID protocols, no fans are allowed outside of family.

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