After losing to Kentucky at Cliff Hagan Stadium earlier this season, the Indiana Hoosiers baseball team will travel back to Lexington this weekend for the NCAA Tournament Lexington Regional to take on North Carolina State.
Since Indiana’s late-season loss to the Wildcats — a 5-2 setback on May 9 — the Hoosiers have gone 6-4, including a 1-2 performance in the Big Ten Tournament.
However, that one win in the Big Ten Tournament over Michigan gave Chris Lemonis his 100th career win as Indiana’s head coach.
Indiana could get a rematch against the Wildcats over the weekend, but it will have to beat North Carolina State first. If the Hoosiers hope to advance to the super regionals, they will probably need a big week from their offense.
Indiana’s team batting average ranks 186th in the nation, as the Hoosiers hit at a .266 clip. Indiana has only two batters who hit above 300, with Matt Lloyd leading the way at .317.
Lloyd’s bat has been hot recently, as the sophomore DH/pitcher has collected a hit in 10 of his 13 last games. In Lloyd’s last game, he went 4-for-4 with three RBI and a home run.
The Hoosiers also have a big hitter in the cleanup spot in outfielder Craig Dedelow. The senior leads Indiana with 17 home runs, tied for the 22nd most in the nation. Dedelow also leads the Hoosiers in RBI and total bases.
If the Hoosiers do get on base, they have a hard time advancing as Indiana is a team that does not steal often.
Indiana has only two players with double-digit steals and the team as a whole ranks 111th nationally in stolen bases. The Hoosiers could do themselves a big favor this weekend by squeezing out some runs on the basepaths.
The Hoosiers would also benefit from some improvement on the mound, as their team ERA of 4.48 ranks 118th in the NCAA. Indiana also ranks 218th in strikeouts per nine innings.
RHP Jonathan Stiever is likely to be the starting pitcher for the Hoosiers on Friday, as he has been the team’s Friday starting pitcher for most of the season.
Stiever has the third highest ERA of all Indiana starting pitchers at 4.61. However, Stiever is second on the team in strikeouts, behind only RHP Pauly Milto.
Stiever has been roughed up lately, losing his last three games while allowing at least six hits and three runs in each of those.
Indiana’s best two bullpen pitchers are Lloyd and BJ Sabol. Sabol pitched 3 1/3 innings against Kentucky this season, allowing one hit, no runs and striking out four.
The last time both North Carolina State and Indiana made it to the College World Series was 2013. However, the teams were placed in opposite brackets and did not advance to play each other in the CWS finals.
Indiana and N.C. State last met in 1951, and the Hoosiers won 9-7. Friday’s matchup will be the second meeting in history between the two ball clubs.
All-session tickets covering all six or seven games range from $55 to $85 and are on sale now.
Single-session tickets, $10 or $15, went on sale Thursday morning. Each game is one session, and the stadium will be cleared between games.
Chris Leach: 859-231-1326, @chrisleach250
NCAA Lexington Regional
Game 1: Kentucky (39-20) vs. Ohio (31-26), Noon (ESPNU)
Game 2: Indiana (33-22-2) vs. North Carolina State (34-23), 7 p.m. (WatchESPN.com)
Game 3: Loser Game 1 vs. Loser Game 2, Noon (Watch ESPN.com)
Game 4: Winner Game 1 vs. Winner Game 2, 7 p.m. (WatchESPN.com)
Game 5: Winner Game 3 vs. Loser Game 4, 1 p.m. (Watch ESPN.com)
Game 6: Winner Game 4 vs. Winner Game 5, 7 p.m. (WatchESPN.com)
Game 7: If necessary, same teams as in Game 6, 7 p.m. (WatchESPN.com)