BLOOMINGTON – Indiana baseball coach Chris Lemonis was encouraged on Saturday and Sunday when his IU team came back to take two wins from previously unbeaten Big Ten foe Minnesota.
And with another huge series coming up this weekend at Michigan, Lemonis expected his team to play with the same energy and intensity against Butler Wednesday night and use the game as a springboard into the weekend.
Instead, the Hoosiers did a belly flop.
Indiana struggled with pitching, hitting and defense, falling to Butler 7-5 Wednesday night before a crowd of 2,242 at Bart Kaufman Field.
“That was a whole team effort tonight,’’ Lemonis said. “It was not just our pitchers, it was our hitters, it was our defense and our coaching staff. Probably coaching more than anything.’’
The Hoosiers (19-15-2) came into the game on the NCAA Tournament bubble according to Baseball America, which had IU listed as one of the final four teams out of the tournament in its projected field of 64 that was released earlier in the day on Wednesday. Butler improved to 23-13.
Lemonis spent a little extra time talking to his team in the outfield after the game – specifically about how a game like the one against Butler can ultimately keep you out of the NCAA Tournament.
“The comment I just made to them is that games like this are what keep you out sometimes,’’ Lemonis said. “We didn’t come out and play with a sense of urgency and that comes back to coaching. For us to come out with the life we showed tonight, I did a poor job of getting us ready.’’
Butler got out to a 5-0 lead heading into the bottom of the fifth. At that point, the Bulldogs had outhit IU 11-1. The Bulldogs scored their first run on a wild pitch and their third run on a throwing error by Luke Miller in the third.
But Indiana got right back into it in the bottom of the fifth when it sent eight batters to the play and got to within one at 5-4. A Butler error led to the Hoosiers getting two runners on with one out before Matt Lloyd had an RBI single. Craig Dedelow knocked in two runs with a double to right and then Matt Gorski made it 5-4 on a double to left.
Indiana had a big chance in the bottom of the sixth to take the lead. IU put runners at second and third with one out, but Miller struck out swinging and Lloyd flew out to left field.
Butler got two big insurance runs in the top of the ninth on a two-out, two-run home run by Michael Diviesti. Diviesti had three hits and three RBI.
Indiana got one back in the bottom of the ninth, but Dedelow struck out to the end the game.
Lemonis said he thought his team was “lifeless” against Butler on Wednesday night.
“The frustrating thing is that you come out here on a Wednesday and it’s beautiful weather, a beautiful park, the place is packed and you’re ready to play and then … like I said, it goes back to me getting guys ready to go,’’ he said.