The margin in baseball between success and failure is so tight.
Indiana State learned that lesson the hard way against No. 19-ranked Indiana on Wednesday.
For most of the contest, ISU matched IU hit-for-hit, but couldn’t match the Hoosiers run-for-run as IU took maximum advantage of its baserunners to post an 8-1 victory at IU’s new Bart Kaufman Field.
IU — winners of four in a row and owners of a 19-game win streak earlier this season — proved its quality by putting the foot on the gas in the last three innings of the contest. The Hoosiers scored five of their runs in that period.
But up until that point, the game was in either team’s hands, but the Hoosiers took it with better situational hitting. IU’s first baserunners in three separate innings came around to score; two of them did so with two outs on the board.
“They’re on a good roll right now and they’re a good team. They’ve got it going right now. You can sense it with their hitters. They feel good about themselves. They step up and got the barrel on the ball one through nine and we’re just not right now,” ISU coach Rick Heller said.
ISU’s offense, meanwhile, has gone into a slump. The Sycamores scored just three runs in three games as the Sycamores were swept at Illinois State last weekend and the trend continued Wednesday.
ISU managed just five hits and stranded seven runners.
“We didn’t really do anything with the opportunities we had,” said ISU third baseman Koby Kraemer, who made some outstanding defensive plays. “You can say — ‘what if this?’ or ‘what if that?’ — but in the end, we have to get it done and we didn’t tonight.”
The Hoosiers (31-8) took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Will Nolden walked and Kyle Schwarber doubled to set up a RBI single by Scott Donley. Schwarber scored on a throwing error by first baseman Robby Ort as he tried to initiate a double play at second.
ISU (17-18) seemed to give good signs of fight back as it scored a run in the second. Mike Fitzgerald’s double scored Owen Conway with one out, but the Sycamores left the bases loaded in a what-might-have-been frame for ISU.
The Sycamores had other chances, but runners could produce nothing of it. Meanwhile, IU was able to turn a pair of two-out Chad Clark singles into a 4-0 lead by the end of the sixth inning.
The two-out hits IU got were the ones that ISU wasn’t able to muster.
“We’re not getting a lot of things going until we get two outs and then we don’t get the two-out hit,” Heller said.
IU put the game away with four runs in the final two frames off three ISU pitchers. Schwarber’s solo home run in the seventh was the big blow.
ISU’s loss has it mired in a five-game losing streak. The losing skid came after a five-game win streak. ISU has had a separate five-game win streak and a four-game losing streak at other points of the season.
The streakiness is frustrating.
“I think everyone’s frustrated with it,” Heller said. “The Creighton weekend [an ISU series sweep April 12-14] we felt like we got back in the race. We felt like we played better than Illinois State in two of the three games there and we ended up losing. Then you start to lose your confidence and you’re fighting and scrapping.”
Kraemer thinks if ISU can stay the course and not let the losing permanently damage the team’s confidence, the Sycamores will be OK.
“It’s a tough because when you’re on a losing streak, it seems like everything goes against you. The bloop hits don’t fall, the calls don’t go your way and what not,” Kraemer said. “But as a team, you have to really believe in yourself individually and collectively as a group. When you get that together, that’s when the losing streak ends.”
ISU travels to Tennessee-Martin for a three-game series, starting Friday. ISU ace Sean Manaea is scheduled to go to the doctor prior to the series to check on his ailing hip.
Indiana 8, ISU 1
INDIANA STATE (AB-R-H-RBI) — Zimmerman dh 3-0-0-0, McCurdy ph 1-0-0-0, Curry cf 3-0-1-0, Kraemer 3b 4-0-0-0, Ort 1b 4-0-0-0, Conway lf 3-1-1-0, Hayes rf 3-0-1-0, McClain ph 1-0-0-0, Fitzgerald c 3-0-2-1, Pearson 2b 3-0-0-0, Wampler ss 1-0-0-0, Shaw ph 1-0-0-0, Hannahs ss 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 30-1-5-1.
INDIANA (AB-R-H-RBI) — Nolden rf 4-2-1-0, Schwarber dh 4-2-2-1, Knoblauch ph 0-0-0-1, Travis 1b 5-1-1-0, Donley lf 3-0-1-1, O’Conner lf 0-0-0-0, Smith ph 1-0-1-1, Basil ss 4-0-1-1, DeMuth 3b 3-2-2-0, Ramos 2b 3-0-1-0, Wilhite 2b 1-0-0-0, Clark c 3-0-2-2, Cureton cf 3-1-0-0. TOTALS 34-8-12-7.
Indiana State 010 000 000 -- 1
Indiana 200 101 22x -- 8
E — Ort (5), Hayes (2); Nolden (2). DP — IU 1. LOB — ISU 7, IU 7. 2B — Fitzgerald (5); Schwarber (9), Travis (12), DeMuth (14). HR — Schwarber (9). SF — Knoblauch (1).
IP H R ER BB SO
Fehringer (L, 1-2) 1 1/3 2 2 2 2 0
Negele 2 2/3 2 1 1 0-2
Kuhlman 1 2/3 2 1 1 1 0
Browning 1/3 0 0 0 0 0
McElderry 1/3 2 2 2 0 1
Dove 2/3 3 0 0 0 0
Kudrecki 1 1 2 0 1 0
IP H R ER BB SO
Coursen-Carr (W, 2-0) 6 5 1 1 2 3
Bell 1 2/3 0 0 0 1 2
Korte 2/3 0 0 0 0 0
Stadler 2/3 0 0 0 2 1
WP — Korte (4); T: 2:35. A — 854.
Next — ISU (17-18) plays at Tennessee-Martin and Indiana (31-8) plays host to Michigan on Friday.