Sometimes the best offense doesn't make up for a mediocre defense. Indiana (20-14, 6-3 Big Ten) found that out that hard way as it fell to Iowa 6-5 in 10 innings Sunday evening at Bart Kaufman Field.
"Probably our first down day in our bullpen in a couple weeks," IU coach Chris Lemonis said. "We just gotta throw more strikes, and then they had some hits. They got hits off one of the hottest pitchers in the country. Some days you just have to tip your hat to the opponent."
Lemonis wasn't wrong.
Indiana's bullpen surrendered 13 hits to Iowa (17-17, 6-6), the second-most hits in a single game by an IU opponent this season. Those hits were also the most by an IU opponent since Purdue had 14 on April 8.
Senior right-hander Evan Bell initially started out strong with just one hit allowed through three innings. However, that number ballooned to four after a 3-hit, 3-run fourth inning resulted in his early exit.
Bell was replaced by sophomore lefty B.J. Sabol, who walked two batters and caused an unearned run.
"We were just missing on some pitches and we felt like we were going to really matchup with our lefty against their lefties and it just didn't work out for us, so we felt like we had a chance to run through," Lemonis said. "We knew we had a lot of bullpen left today, so we didn't want to leave anybody in the bullpen. That's kind of what we're doing."
Indiana cycled through four pitchers before sending out junior right-hander Thomas Belcher from the bullpen. Despite throwing a game-high three strikeouts, he allowed three runs over the final three innings - including the game-winning RBI single in the top of the 10th by Iowa leftfielder Eric Schenck-Joblinske.
Freshman designated hitter Scotty Bradley characterized it as simply anything can happen in baseball.
"Thomas Belcher is such a good pitcher and he’s done so well for us," Bradley said. "Things like that happen in baseball all the time so not a big deal at all.”
Both Belcher and Lemonis expressed similar optimism following the loss, particularly with the bottom half of the order accounting for all five of the Hoosiers' runs led by Bradley's 3 RBI.
"That group, they're just feeling better about themselves," Lemonis said. "They went through that funk and I think they're kind of out of it now. You're kind of seeing their true (selves) and how they play the game."
After winning six out of a seven-game homestand and out of their last nine, the Hoosiers face a challenging road week ahead with a midweek game at Xavier and a weekend series at Michigan State.
"Sometimes you get beat," Lemonis said. "We're moving forward and we're excited for a big week coming up."