NEW ALBANY — IU Southeast appears to be hitting its stride heading into a big weekend series.
The Grenadiers (24-10, 12-3) have won nine of their last 10 games going into a three-game set with fellow River States Conference co-leader IU Kokomo (24-9, 12-3) that begins at 6 p.m. tonight at the Koetter Sports Baseball Complex. That will be followed by a Saturday doubleheader that is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.
“This season has been incredible,” IUS coach Ben Reel said. “We have such a good group of human beings, it’s been an absolute inspiration. That sounds as cheesy as it gets, but it’s true. We’re young, eager and excited.”
The Grenadiers, who tied for the regular-season RSC title last year and won it in 2016, have 12 conference games remaining starting with the three-game series against the Cougars.
“It’s going to be a really big one,” Reel said. “It’s really exciting for me because Coach [Matt] Howard at IU Kokomo is one of my best friends in baseball and life.
“This is very familiar territory for us. We’ve been in the driver’s seat for a long time in our conference. … We just can’t take them lightly.”
Freshman left-handed pitcher Chas Adams will start tonight’s opener. The 2017 Floyd Central graduate redshirted last year at Western Kentucky University before transferring to IUS. In six starts, Adams is 4-1 with a 1.46 earned-run average and has 35 strikeouts in 37 innings pitched.
Jack Wohlert will start Saturday’s first game. The 6-foot-7 senior right-hander is 7-0 with a 2.98 ERA in eight starts.
Reel said either senior left-hander Andrew Yates (3-0, 2.94 ERA) or senior right-hander Kyle Hawkins (3-1, 1.27 ERA) will start Saturday’s second game for the Grenadiers, who are tied for second in the RSC in opponents' batting average (.256).
On the flip side, IUS, which is second in the conference in batting average (.290) will face an IUK staff that leads the RSC in team ERA (3.36) and opponents' batting average (.216).
At the plate, the Grenadiers are led by a pair of sophomores — Brody Tanksley and Clay Woeste. Tanskley, a catcher, is hitting .365 while Woeste, the team’s second baseman and leadoff hitter, is batting .355.
“Our offense goes when he goes,” Reel said of Woeste, who tops the team in runs scored (37) and doubles (eight) and is tied for the top spot in hits (39).
The top of the batting order also includes third baseman Daniel Brescia (.345 batting average), Derek Wagner (.286, four home runs, 30 RBIs) and Cody Maloon (.325, four HRs, 26 RBIs).
“Cody and Danny Brescia are really the unsung heroes of our ball club,” Reel said. “And Danny and Brody are kind of our Thunder and Lightning.”