It rained throughout the afternoon and evening in Bloomington, but drizzling rain would not douse the fire Indiana threw from the mound.
IU’s pitching staff struck out 15 as the Hoosiers earned their sixth-straight win in a 5-3 home-opener victory over Eastern Michigan Tuesday night at Bart Kaufman Field.
“It’s good for us to get here and get our routine down and bounce around,” IU head coach Chris Lemonis said. “The guys were excited to play in front of our fans.”
Freshman righthander Brian Hobbie (1-0) pitched four innings for the Hoosiers (9-4), allowing just one hit and two walks with seven strikeouts and no runs. Overall, he threw 71 pitches with 48 strikes.
“I thought he was great,” Lemonis said. “He just fatigued a little bit. He probably hadn’t been out there as much as a reliever as much. We’ll try to get his pitch count up so he can try to pitch a little more midweek.”
Hobbie said his slider was working well and his fastball had movement while he was on the mound.
“Getting past the first inning, getting a zero in the first inning, it really helps you out,” he said. “Just mentally, you have some confidence. On top of that, getting some runs really, really helps out as a pitcher.”
The strong pitching continued when sophomore Thomas Belcher took over for Hobbie in the top of the fifth inning. Belcher pitched through the fifth and sixth innings, allowing two hits but no runs.
Despite those efforts, Belcher and Hobbie saw their scoreless-frame streak end in the eighth inning as Eastern Michigan (6-11) attempted to mount a comeback.
The Eagles scored three runs off of Hoosiers sophomore Kent Williams and senior Luke Harrison to cut the IU lead to two in the bottom of the eighth. Harrison held strong, though, and earned the save, tossing four strikeouts while allowing just two hits and one earned run as the closer.
Indiana’s offense got off to a hot start by scoring three runs through the first three innings. It was aided by three wild pitches from Eastern Michigan freshman Brent Mattson (0-1), who gave up seven hits, four earned runs, and five walks in five innings pitched.
The Hoosiers recorded 10 hits overall, marking the eighth time in their last nine outings they’ve had 10 or more hits.
Lemonis said getting comfortable has been key to Indiana’s successful hitting.
“The first couple of games, the games were really tight and you’re facing some of the best arms in the country, so it’s to be expected,” he said. “But I like our effort. We were pretty solid up and down the lineup today.”
Freshman Isaiah Pasteur shined on an individual level for the Hoosiers, going 2-for-2 with an RBI double. He said he felt comfortable at the plate.
“Definitely a different feel being out at the home field,” Pasteur said. “It’s good. Just did my part and tried to help the team win.”
Indiana continues its six-game homestand tomorrow, when it will face Eastern Michigan at 4 p.m. at Bart Kaufman field.
“It was a great experience,” Pasteur said. “It’s good to come out in front of the home fans and compete and get the win.”