With a split against the McKendree University Bearcats on April 8-9, Head Baseball Coach Gary Vaught earned his 900th career win. The University of Indianapolis baseball team sits at the top of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Eastern Division with a conference record of 8-4 as of Sunday, April 10.
Prior to splitting against McKendree, Associate Head Baseball Coach Al Ready said that the Hounds need to win every series to maintain their position in conference.
“If we can continue to win three out of every four games for the rest of the conference schedule, we’re going to win the East, or be in a really good position to win the East, at least,” Ready said. “So that’s our mindset, [to] just keep playing hard and [playing] team baseball and getting ourselves prepared and ready to go for each weekend, and we’ll put ourselves in the best chance to win each series.”
The games against McKendree featured scores of 7-5, 3-4, 3-8 and 13-7.
In the first inning of game one against the Bearcats, senior second baseman Anthony Asalon drove the fifth pitch of the game to right field to make it a 1-0 game. Four batters later, sophomore infielder Storm Joop hit a sacrifice fly allowing redshirt senior catcher Alex Ritchie to score from third base, making it a 2-0 game. The Greyhounds crossed the plate five more times before the end of the game. UIndy won 7-5 and had 13 hits in the win. Freshman infielder Kyle Orloff, Ritchie and Asalon had three hits apiece in the win.
Game two did not end in the Hounds favor. After back and forth play, the seventh inning opened up 3-3 and thanks to a walk off home run from the Bearcats, McKendree won 4-3. Ritchie recorded another three hits in the game.
Day two followed suit for the Greyhounds. UIndy fell in game three 8-3, but bounced back to win 13-7 after in game four after being down 3-0.
In the 13-7 win, UIndy had hits from seven different players. Leading the pack was junior utility Carter Pranger with five hits, two of which were home runs. Matching Pranger’s two homers was freshman outfielder Devon Hensley. The pitching duties in the win were split between five Greyhounds.
In the Hounds second GLVC matchup of the year, they competed against Lewis University on April 2-3. UIndy took the series 3-1 (17-9, 8-7, 11-6, 4-15).
Game one against Lewis opened with senior pitcher Matthew Kaplanis on the mound for the Greyhounds. Kaplanis pitched five innings for UIndy. Lewis got on the board first in the second inning with one run, but UIndy responded in the third and fourth innings with a total of 17 runs, to make it a 17-1 game heading into the fifth inning.
Once again the Flyers crossed home first in the opening inning of game two, but at the bottom of the inning the Hounds responded with three runs. With the score tied at the bottom of the fourth, Orloff stepped up to the plate. With two outs already in place, Orloff found the left center field gap with a double allowing three runners to score, putting the Hounds up 7-4. At the top of the sixth, the score was tied 7-7 after four singles from the Flyers. With Asalon in scoring position, senior infielder Colin Hawk doubled at the bottom of the sixth allowing Asalon to cross home and put UIndy up 8-7 to win after a silent seventh inning.
Junior pitcher Connor Mailloux opened up day two on the mound for UIndy and earned the win. Game three of the series was silent for UIndy until the fourth inning, when six Hounds crossed home plate, making it 6-3. Between the fifth and sixth innings, UIndy put five runs on the board compared to Lewis’s three to earn the third win in the series.
Game four did not end in the Greyhounds’ favor. UIndy went through five pitchers in seven innings and allowed 15 runs on 13 hits, five of which were home runs from the Flyers.
Even with the 15-4 loss in game four, UIndy won the series, and that’s what’s important, according to Orloff.
“I mean, we started off hot,” he said. “It’s hard to get a four-game sweep. Like Storm [Joop] said, all we’re trying to do is win the series, and we got three [games] right away. And today, [April 3,] they elevated the ball and just got on top early. We couldn’t string a couple of hits together, and that’s how we got down [in the final game].”
According to Orloff, the team has one goal in mind this season, and that is to win a National Championship.
Ready said that since September, the team has been meeting with Assistant Professor of Psychological Sciences Urska Dobersek once a week for 30 minutes to do team building, visualization and awareness exercises, to change the culture of the team. He believes the exercises have gone a long way towards getting the team and its culture where the coaches want it to be.
“Well, the last couple of years, I think, we’ve really done a lot about changing the culture and getting ourselves more towards team baseball,” Ready said. “A lot of our wins this year, we’ve had multiple contributors. We’ve had guys step up off the bench and get big pinch hits…. You could go down the list and say something about every single guy on the team contributing to our success thus far, and that was one of our goals coming in [to the season].
“If you want to win a national title, you have to play team baseball. You have to have everybody on the team take on a roll [and] accept that roll and execute when they’re called upon. We’ve done it; we’ve done a good job up to this point.”
UIndy’s next game is today, April 13, at Maryville University. The game is set to begin at 2 p.m.