OMAHA, Neb. – The Indiana baseball team played a game to conclude open practice Tuesday afternoon with the Hoosiers’ starters going against the reserves in the batting cages at Kitty Gaughan Pavilion.
Assistant coaches Ty Neal and Roger Rodeheaver threw to the hitters, who took one swing against each pitcher. Rodeheaver throws right-handed. Neal left-handed. The team to hit the L Screen – the netting that protects the pitcher during batting practice – the most times, won. The loser had to pick up the baseballs in the Creighton University facility.
Indiana’s reserves were assigned the task.
Sophomore Kyle Schwarber said he believes the Big Ten champions (49-15) will return to form when they play Oregon State (51-12) in a College World Series elimination game tonight.
We’re just going to keep playing our game, and I feel like we’ll have success when we get out there (tonight), the Middletown, Ohio, native said. Maybe we were coming out there, pressing a little bit. We talked about it. We struck out, what, 14 times (Monday in a 5-4 loss to Mississippi State)? It’s just not us. That’s why I feel like we’ll come out and be more mature tomorrow.
Indiana will call upon sophomore right-hander Aaron Slegers, the Big Ten Pitcher of the Year, to begin its climb out of the losers’ bracket. Slegers said his approach will remain the same despite some struggles recently.
It seems like the ball’s not flying so, as a pitcher, obviously that’s going to be a little positive in my circumstance, Slegers said. I’m still going to pitch to contact, still going to try to get ground balls.
Slegers, from Scottsdale, Ariz., had a difficult time locating the strike zone in the Hoosiers’ 11-6 win June 9 at Florida State. He threw 86 pitches in 4 1/3 innings, striking out one and issuing two walks.
I need to throw strikes early, Slegers said. (At) Florida State, I was walking guys and that’s not my game plan, so I need to get back in the zone and compete.
Should he be unable to do so, Indiana has bullpen depth.
We’ve got extremely good arms fresh, Slegers said. (Sophomore starter) Kyle Hart, with rest, Joey DeNato’s going to be coming back pretty shortly. We got good freshmen arms. Christian Morris and Evan Bell, those guys can go out there and compete for us, so it’s definitely one of our strengths moving forward.
Schwarber predicted Slegers will match up well against the Beavers.
I feel like he’ll do fine, Schwarber said. He’s a guy who’s going to be tough to hit. He works a really good downhill plane. That’s tough for anyone (to hit), especially when he’s a 6-foot-11 kid. He’s going to do his best to pound the bottom of the strike zone, and I’m going to do my best to keep him in the game, making sure he hits his target.