TAMPA, Fla. (CBC) – After Indiana University’s 7-6 walk-off victory over Xavier this past weekend, the Hoosiers mount up and embark on their third consecutive weekend road trip to start the 2015 season. Indiana (3-3) faces off against 2014 NCAA Super Regional participant College of Charleston (4-2) at The Ballpark at Patriots Point.
This will mark the first meeting between the two ball-clubs, as the College of Charleston, who just lost last year’s NCBWA National Freshmen of the Year sophomore RHP Bailey Ober (Huntersville, N.C. /Charlotte Christian) to season ending Tommy John surgery, will look to grab the series win and forge ahead after the devastating news.
After going 1-2 over last weekend’s First Pitch Invitational, Indiana, who had just broke into the College Baseball Central Top 25 rankings, now find themselves ousted from the poll. It’s still early, let’s not forget the Hoosiers began 2-5 in 2014 before ending the regular season 38-12 overall, eventually winning the Big Ten Tournament and securing the No. 4 seed in the NCAA Tournament. So let’s not count our chickens before they’ve hatched just yet.
Also, IU’s three-game losing streak was only its third slide of three-plus games since the beginning of the 2013 season and correspondingly the eighth time ever that the Hoosiers have lost that many games in a row.
I still like Indiana’s makeup, let’s keep in mind that four of Indiana’s six contests have been decided by one run, whereas everyone of them has been decided by three scores or less. So IU could just be the victim of a cold start.
Some interesting stats that point to this are IU ranks first in sac bunts with nine in the Big Ten, first in walks allowed with nine, and they are tied for first in home runs with four. On top of that, the Hoosiers are third in stolen bases with nine, and fourth in base-on-balls at 25. These numbers, if continued, lead to a lot of wins over the long haul.
Look for redshirt-senior outfielder Scott Donley (Crown Point, Ind./Virginia Tech) to head up the Hoosier attack. Donley leads all Indiana hitters batting .391, with nine hits and five runs scored.
Sophomore infielder Austin Cangelosi (Orland Park, Ill./Carl Sandburg) will be one to watch as well over the series as the talented slugger leads IU with a .600 slugging percentage, tied for sixth in the Big Ten.
On the mound, Indiana will count on the arm of redshirt-senior pitcher Ryan Halstead (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif./Los Osos) to stay true, as the big right-hander’s two saves and three games finished (tied for second in the Big Ten) are a building point for the Hoosiers moving forward.
Junior RHP Scott Effross (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg), who is tied for fourth in the league with 12 innings pitched (six in each start) will be a focal point as well.
IU’s track record on the road speaks immensely as well, going 35-19 in true road games over the last two-plus seasons, including an 18-8 mark in 2014 tells me college baseball fans have yet to see true Hoosier baseball in 2015.
If you take in to account that dating back to last year, Indiana has won 15 of its last 18 true road contests, and the matter of IU’s first 13 games of the 2015 season are away from home (seven road; six neutral) in four weekends, you can’t count them out of post season probability just yet.