Matchup: Indiana Hoosiers (3-3-1) at Cincinnati Bearcats (2-4)
Location: Marge Schott Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
Series History: Indiana leads 15-9.
Time/Probably Starters: A.J. Olasz (0-0, 0.00) vs. Cal Krueger (0-1, 2.70)
Meet the Opponent
Indiana is a team with a top heavy lineup, at least through the small sample size of seven games. There are four players hitting above .300, but the team as a whole is only batting .243. That is largely because left fielder Craig Dedelow and right fielder Logan Sowers are each below .200 for the season. Dedelow (.194/.194/.484) has smashed three home runs, but he hasn’t done much else, striking out nine times in a team-high 31 at-bats. Sowers is second on the team in at-bats (28), and his .143/.143/.200 line is unsightly, especially considering he also leads the team in strikeouts (13).
However, a return to form should be expected from each. Sowers was named IU’s team MVP in 2016 when he led the Hoosiers in slugging (.466), on-base percentage (.377) and home runs (eight) following an All-Big Ten freshman season. Dedelow was a third-team All-Big Ten honoree last year and led the team in batting average (.302) and doubles (16).
Meanwhile, while the heart of the order tries to find its footing, third baseman Luke Miller (.357/.438/.786), designated hitter Ryan Fineman (.333/.385/.458), center fielder Laren Eustace (.318/.423/.455) and catcher Jake Matheny (.304/.360/.609) have all been potent with the stick.
As for the pitching staff, IU boasts a respectable team ERA of 3.10, anchored by sophomore right-hander Jonathan Stiever, who has gotten off to a fast start posting a 2.31 ERA and 10 strikeouts in a team-high 11 2⁄3 innings of work. UC won’t have to deal with him, however, but relievers such as Andrew Saalfrank (2.25 ERA), Pauly Milto (.386 ERA), B.J. Sabol (0.00 ERA) and Cameron Beauchamp (0.00 ERA) may work their way into the game.
As for who we can guarantee UC batters will face, that job belongs to Cal Krueger, who will be making his first start of his career after appearing in three games out of the bullpen. In just 3 1⁄3 innings of work, Krueger has allowed two hits, walked three, struck out two and allowed a run.
Krueger will be opposed by A.J. Olasz, who will make the start for the Bearcats. This will not only be Olasz’s first start of the season but his first outing overall. The junior pitched to a 4.15 ERA in 13 games (seven starts) last season, while striking out 32 batters in 43 1⁄3 innings.
Olasz will need to be careful against Sowers and Dedelow, but he has shown an ability to avoid the long ball, allowing only two home runs last season. Still, being the pitcher that jolts either batter out of their early season slumps is not a role Olasz will want to play.
Speaking of slumps, second baseman Kyle Mottice (.211/.318/.316) and first baseman Ryan Noda (.190/.320/.381) have both been mired in a swamp in terms of hitting. Noda did hit his first home run of the season over the weekend, but that slight glimpse of power doesn’t erase an otherwise forgettable start. Their struggles have dragged the team down to a .233 batting average, despite good work from outfielders R.J. Thompson (.364/.440/.455) and A.J. Bumpass (.320/.370/.680), the latter of which leads the team in extra-base hits (five) and slugging. In addition, freshman Jace Mercer has done well in the leadoff role the last two games, going 4-for-10 in the role against Charleston.
IU isn’t sending out its very best in this one, with Krueger a freshman who has never started a college game before. However, its not as if UC is sending its ace to the mound either, although Olasz has had success in the past. In a midweek matchup with two younger pitchers, this contest will likely be won at the plate, which favors the Hoosiers, even if Sowers and Dedelow continue to struggle.