Indiana Baseball: Previewing Indiana's Opening Series with LSU

Caleb Coffman

UPDATE: Due to a strong strong forecast of rain on Sunday, Indiana and LSU will play a doubleheader on Saturday, February 15, starting at 2 p.m. ET.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind — Indiana's baseball team is ready to get back to work, and it starts its season on Friday with the first of three games in Baton Rouge, La., against LSU.

The Tigers enter the season ranked as the No. 11 team in the country after finishing last season 40-27 and reaching the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament before losing to Florida State. 

In a preseason poll of SEC coaches, LSU is expected to finish tied with Auburn for third place in the Western Division of the SEC. In a similar Big Ten poll, Indiana was picked to finish fifth overall.

Here are the particulars on this weekend’s series:

  • Who: LSU Tigers (0-0, 0-0 SEC) vs. Indiana Hoosiers (0-0, 0-0 Big Ten)
  • When: Friday, Feb. 14, 8 p.m. ET; Saturday, Feb. 15, doubleheader starting at 2 p.m. ET
  • Where: Alex Box Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.
  • Poll Rankings: LSU enters the series ranked No. 11 according to D1 Baseball and Collegiate Baseball. Indiana is unranked.
  • Weekend Starters: Friday (Indiana's Tommy Sommer vs. Cole Henry), Saturday Game 1 (Indiana's Gabe Bierman vs. Landon Marceaux) and Saturday Game 2 (Indiana's Braydon Tucker vs. AJ Labas).
  • TV: SEC Network+
  • Radio: Indiana Radio Network
  • Announcer: Austin Render

Here are three things I’m looking to see from Indiana this weekend:

1. Starting pitchers perform

Indiana’s biggest question mark entering the season is the pitching staff. Junior Tommy Sommer and sophomores Gabe Bierman and Braydon Tucker all have limited experience as starting pitchers and will definitely have to go through some growing pains at the beginning of the season. It’s a big leap from coming out of the bullpen to being a weekend starter, and IU will use the beginning of the season as a learning experience.

LSU is one of the toughest opponents the Hoosiers will face all season and will provide a good initial test for this young pitching staff that is relying heavily on underclassmen.

2. Run production

The Hoosiers lost their two most deadly bats from last season in Matt Lloyd and Matt Gorski, so it will be up to other players to step up and carry the load. Juniors Cole Barr, Elijah Dunham and Drew Ashley were all highly productive in IU’s lineup a season ago, and will be relied on to generate much of the team’s offense.

Indiana is hoping that Grant Richardson, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year, will continue his growth and become a pivotal aspect of the Hoosiers’ lineup.

3. Sticking with the system

Last season, Indiana coach Jeff Mercer implemented a focused approach at the plate. He wanted his hitters to be patient, taking more pitches to increase their odds of getting a good pitch to hit.

It took some time for the Hoosiers to become comfortable with Mercer’s new philosophy last season, but it was shown to be successful as the team won six of its last nine games to end the regular season and clinch the Big Ten regular season title. Against a talented LSU team, sticking to the system will give IU its best chance of stealing a game or two away from the Tigers.

Related Indiana baseball stories

  • SEASON PREVIEW: Hoosiers Look to Build on Success from 2019. CLICK HERE
  • MOUND GAMES: Young Pitchers Ready to Take Next Step. CLICK HERE
  • Indiana 2020 Schedule: Complete list of games for the Hoosiers. CLICK HERE
  • Indiana 2020 Roster: Complete 2020 roster for the Hoosiers. CLICK HERE
  • LSU BASEBALL: LSU baseball coach Paul Mainieri reveals Opening Day lineup, talks Indiana Series. CLICK HERE 

Video: A chat with Sports Illustrated LSU  reporter Glen West