If IU could have even won one game of the doubleheader against the Spartans, it would be looking a lot better in terms of its chances at qualifying for the Big Ten Tournament May 20-24 in Minneapolis.
The top eight teams qualify for the conference tournament. IU is currently ninth.
The teams ahead of the Hoosiers that they could possibly catch are Nebraska and Minnesota. Minnesota, in particular, has six tough games remaining as well against Iowa and Michigan State. The Golden Gophers are 7-11 in conference compared to 6-10 for the Hoosiers.
But IU’s problem is that it faces a tough road of its own.
First up is a three-game road series at Maryland this weekend. The Terrapins are in third place in the conference standings with an 11-4 record.
Indiana likely needs to win at least one game in that series and winning two or more would put the Hoosiers in a much more desirable position.
In the final Big Ten series for Indiana, it faces an Ohio State team that is current 12-3 in conference play and in third place in the league standings. Depending on how IU does against Maryland, it may come home needing to sweep the Buckeyes in order to qualify for the postseason conference tournament.
The problem for IU of late has been a lack of timely hitting more than anything else.
The dismal hitting Sunday, however, couldn’t have come at a worse time. Indiana managed a total of six hits in two games of the doubleheader. It scored two runs total. IU had one hit in the first game, a 7-0 loss and then five hits in the second game. Will Nolden accounted for three of those hits.
IU’s top four in the order against Michigan State on Sunday went a combined 2-for-31. Craig Dedelow accounted for both of the hits.
The crazy thing is that on Friday, in the first game of the series, the IU bats accounted for 15 hits in a 6-1 victory. The top four in the order in that game went 10-for-19.
Indiana has painted itself into a corner if it wants to have a chance to defend its back-to-back Big Ten baseball titles at the Big Ten Tournament.
Just how the Hoosiers perform beginning on Friday at Maryland will give us a good idea of what the chances are moving forward.