Three Up, Three Down: A Few Things To Know about Indiana Baseball vs No. 11 LSU Opening Weekend

Glen West

Baseball at the Box is back as No. 11 LSU prepares for Opening Weekend against visiting Indiana. 

Indiana returns a lineup filled with freshmen and sophomores and will enter one of the toughest environments in all of college baseball. We caught up with HoosiersNow writer Caleb Coffman to better understand what to expect from the young Hoosiers.

1.Starting rotation set for the Hoosiers

Indiana coach Jeff Mercer waited until the last minute to announce his starting pitchers for this first weekend series of the year. Tommy Sommer will go Friday, Gabe Bierman will start on Saturday and Braydon Tucker will get the nod on Sunday.

Used mostly as a reliever last year, opponents only hit .214 against Sommer last season while he also posted a 3.36 strikeouts-per-walk ratio, the fourth-best mark on the team.

“Tommy Sommer pitched big innings for us last year. He’s done a really good job this year,'' Indiana coach Jeff Mercer said. "Gabe Bierman also has done a really nice job, and Braydon Tucker. too. Those guys have taken a good step forward.”

2. Lineup still has a few thumpers

Junior third baseman Cole Barr and left fielder Elijah Dunham, a pair of Preseason All-Big Ten selections by Perfect Game, lead the Hoosiers' lineup. Barr earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors in 2019 after sharing the team-lead with 17 homers to go with 51 RBI. Dunham was a Third-Team All-Big Ten selection despite missing 17 games. He led the team with a .310 batting average to go with 12 doubles, eight homers and 29 RBI.

Here are the projected starters this weekend:

Catcher — Collin Hopkins

First base — Jordan Fucci

Second base — Drew Ashely

Shortstop — Jeremy Houston

Third baseman — Cole Barr

Left field — Elijah Dunham

Center field — Grant Richardson

Right field — Ethan Vecrumba

Designated Hitter — Tyler Van Pelt

3. Hoosiers ready for the big challenge.

Baton Rouge is a tough place for anyone to start the season, but Indiana looks at it as a positive, win, lose or draw. It's the level of competition that matters in preparation for bigger things down the road.

"That's the reason you do it," Indiana coach Jeff Mercer said. "Whether we open 6-0 or 0-6, they won't give us a national championship, and they won't cancel the season. We still have to play the rest of the games.

"Putting us in big environments helps them, because that's what you want them to do late in the season. You want to be the best team you can be in the last month. Being in big environments and playing pressure-packed baseball helps shape the character of your team."