Indiana gained another crucial Big Ten win and clinched the series thanks to the “townie takeover.”
Freshman second basemen Colby Stratten, a Bloomington North grad, went 2-for-4 with two RBIs and sophomore right-hander Jake Kelzer, a Bloomington South grad, tossed eight scoreless innings to lead Indiana to a 6-0 victory over Rutgers Saturday at Bart Kaufman Field.
”We kind of mentioned ‘townie takeover’ during the game,” Stratten said, laughing. “But yeah, it was nice to come out and play well and have Jake just throw amazing on the mound.”
In the first game of the series with Rutgers (11-22, 5-6 Big Ten) – his first career start - Stratten went 1-for-3 with an RBI. Making his second straight start Saturday for Indiana (20-11, 4-6 Big Ten), he provided both offense and defense by also assisting on Indiana’s two double plays.
”I was more happy about the defense,” Indiana head coach Chris Lemonis said. “Even though I’ll take the doubles and the single any day, he’s been a nice surprise. He’s played well when we’ve put him out there, and he’ll get more opportunities because of it.”
The defensive efforts from Stratten and other Hoosiers made life on the mound much easier for Kelzer (3-1), who threw six strikeouts and allowed just three hits.
It was arguably Kelzer’s best performance since March 8, when he tossed four strikeouts and allowed just one hit in a 16-1 Hoosier victory over the Ball State Cardinals.
Throwing 97 pitches with 63 of them strikes, Kelzer said his 2-seam fastball was working well for him.
”I felt really good today,” he said. “My stuff was on, and the defense was there today so that made me more comfortable to be able to be in there and throw strikes constantly and know that your defense is there backing you up.
Kelzer’s eight innings pitched made Saturday’s outing the longest start of his career and the season. Previously it was the March 8 Ball State game, when he pitched seven innings.
Sophomore designated hitter Austin Cangelosi’s single to center field, followed by senior rightfielder Will Nolden’s double down the rightfield line, set up an RBI double to left field by Stratten. An RBI single later in the inning by sophomore centerfielder Craig Dedelow put Indiana up 3-0.
Going scoreless between innings three through seven, Indiana padded its lead with a three-run eighth inning in which it recorded four of its 13 total hits. Overall, every player who went to bat for the Hoosiers recorded a hit, with four players having two hits.
Indiana has now won two games in a row and goes for the series sweep Sunday at 12:30 p.m. at Bart Kaufman Field.
”Great to win today,” Lemonis said. “Our mantra right now, we’re just trying to win the next one. We’ve got some ground to make up, and we’ve just got to go out and take care of what we can take care of. We’re excited to play tomorrow.”