On Wednesday at Bob Warn Field, the game that took place was a college baseball game between Indiana State and Indiana.
Normally, it wouldn’t be necessary to make such an obvious observation, but one might be forgiven if during the middle of the game, they confused it for a Big Four high school contest.
Former Terre Haute South pitcher Timmy Herrin and former West Vigo catcher turned pitcher Donnie Ames, pitched against one another in relief in the battle of Sycamores and Hoosiers. Both pitched well too.
Herrin had the final say, however, as he earned the victory in a 5-3 win for Indiana that ended ISU’s win streak at nine.
Herrin, who had a 6.17 ERA entering the contest, knocked his ERA down by 1.57 points after a four-inning effort in which he struck out four and scattered four hits. Herrin’s effort gave him his first win of the season.
“It felt really good, especially being home in Terre Haute with a lot of family and friends. It’s good to come out and perform well,” Herrin said.
On Wednesday, Herrin changed speeds well and kept the Sycamores off balance. Though ISU had batters on in each inning Herrin pitched, the only big threat came in the fifth when the Sycamores had runners at the corners with no outs. Herrin then struck out two Sycamores and induced a shallow fly out.
“I think I was able to locate my pitches well. My slider felt good on the hand today. It’s a pitch I’ve been working on a lot and it’s starting to feel right. It’s a big factor in why I pitched well today because I was not only able to bury it when I needed to, but locate it for a strike,” Herrin said.
It’s the second time Herrin has pitched as a Hoosier at Bob Warn Field and both outings have left the Sycamores frustrated. Herrin started the 2017 visit by Indiana to Bob Warn Field. He pitched three shutout innings of relief.
Ames did his part in the Vigo County reunion, though ISU already trailed by the time he entered the game. Ames pitched 3 2/3 innings, allowing just one hit. Ames got ISU out of trouble in the fifth when he entered the game with one out and a runner on second and set the Hoosiers down for the rest of the frame.
“I hit against him in high school. He’s a good pitcher, he deserves to be where he’s at. We competed against him. That’s all we can do,” said Ames, who said he threw mostly fastballs against the Hoosiers.
Herrin also represents something that’s been a bit of a bane to ISU’s existence this season — left-handed pitching. ISU is batting just .247 against lefties as opposed to .298 against right-handed pitching. Between Herrin, starter Cameron Beauchamp and setup man B.J. Sabol, ISU saw southpaws in eight of the nine innings.
“We haven’t been good offensively against any left-handers,” said Hannahs, who is also juggling the lineup to account for an injury suffered by Romero Harris on March 20. “The scouting report that’s out on us says, ‘throw left-handed pitching.’ We put some more righties in there today. We’re trying to find the at-bats he was giving us.”
Though the Sycamores had nine hits on Wednesday, there weren’t enough when they needed them as ISU stranded 12 runners. Early on, though, it seemed that ISU might take the initiative.
After Indiana took a 1-0 lead on a solo home run by catcher Ryan Fineman, the Sycamores answered with two runs off of Beauchamp in the second. A RBI single by Jake Means and RBI double by Jarrod Watkins put the Sycamores in front 2-1. Indiana would tie the game in the third via a Logan Sowers line single.
Tyler Whitbread relieved between ISU starter Tristan Weaver and Ames’ appearance and he couldn’t contain the Hoosiers. In 1 1/3 innings of work, he allowed four hits and walked one. One hit proved to be the decisive blow in the fifth.
After a walk to Luke Miller, Sowers hit a towering two-run home run to left field to make it 4-2.
ISU (14-6) had chances, none better than in the fifth when C.J. Huntley and Clay Dungan led off with singles to put runners at the corners, but Herrin held the fort as the Sycamores couldn’t capitalize.
ISU would only put one more runner in scoring position again. Indiana added an insurance run in the top of the ninth via a Matt Lloyd single, a run canceled out by a solo home run by Huntley in the bottom half of the ninth, but the Hoosiers (17-5) held on to earn their 10th win in 11 games.
For ISU, it was its first game since last Friday and it may have shown.
“We played two last Friday and then sitting until Wednesday? That’s never good. It’s hard for me to be down and it’s hard to stay sharp. We need to play games and get guys consistent at-bats and time and try to evolve as a club from that standpoint,” said Hannahs, who also said he’s looking for more bullpen depth and more consistent hitting in the bottom half of the lineup.
Unfortunately, Mother Nature isn’t likely to be accommodating this weekend either. ISU next opens conference play on Friday against Missouri State. The game time has already been moved back to 4:30 p.m. and the schedule could be altered further given unfavorable weekend weather forecasts.
INDIANA (AB-R-H-RBI) – Kaletha cf 5-0-1-0, Lloyd 1b 5-0-1-1, Miller 3b 4-2-1-0, Sowers rf 4-1-2-3, Gorski lf 5-0-1-0, Fineman c 4-1-2-1, Crail dh 4-0-2-0, Walker 2b 3-0-0-0, Houston ss 3-1-0-0. TOTALS 37-5-10-5.
INDIANA STATE (AB-R-H-RBI) – Watkins 2b 5-0-2-1, Fegen cf 4-0-0-0, Ayers ph 1-0-0-0, Giesler 1b 4-0-0-0, Huntley rf 5-1-2-1, Dungan ss 4-0-1-0, Lewis dh 3-1-1-0, Enriquez ph 1-0-0-0, Tofteland lf 4-0-0-0, Wright c 4-1-1-0, Means 3b 4-0-2-0. TOTALS 39-3-9-3.
E – Miller 2 (10), Walker (1). DP – ISU 1. LOB – IU 9, ISU 12. 2B – Gorski (6); Watkins (9). HR – Sowers (4), Fineman (2); Huntley (2). SB – Dungan (4).
Herrin (W, 1-0)=4=4=0=0=0=4
Krueger (SV, 3)=1=1=1=1=1=0
Whitbread (L, 2-2)=1 1/3=4=2=2=1=2
WP – Herrin (3); Weaver (2), Larrison (3). T: 3:14. A: 1,187.
Next – ISU (14-6) hosts Missouri State at 4:30 p.m. Friday. Indiana (17-5) hosts Butler today.