Hoosier Baseball Report: Indiana Wins Series at Michigan, Still Trails in Big Ten

Indiana entered the weekend 2.5 games behind Michigan.  Going into the bottom of the seventh on Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers were just nine outs away from reclaiming first place.

Although IU claimed the first series win by an opponent in Ann Arbor all season, a return to first place wasn’t meant to be.  Indiana lost a heart breaker in the series finale and remains 1.5 games back with just one week remaining in the regular season.

In order to win at least a share of the Big Ten regular season crown, Indiana (33-18, 14-7) will need to sweep Rutgers with Michigan losing at least two of three in their final league series.  Alternatively, IU could take two of three from Rutgers and still win a share of the title with Nebraska and possibly others if Michigan gets swept.

The Wolverines will have their hands full next weekend.  Michigan travels to third place Nebraska for a three game series.  The Huskers can pass Michigan in the league standings with a sweep, so Nebraska will be highly motivated.

Rutgers (20-28, 9-11) is still fighting for a spot in the eight-team Big Ten Tournament, so they should be ready against IU as well.

WEEK IN REVIEW

Kentucky 5  Indiana 2

Indiana struck out on the road against the Wildcats.  Literally.  15 times IU batters K’d as Kentucky’s pitchers had the Hoosiers out of sorts for most of the night in Lexington.

Drew Ashley and Jake Skrine each managed a hit and drove in a run as IU accumulated just five hits for the game.

Tommy Sommer saw mixed results in a choppy start.  The lefthander allowed three earned runs on four hits and three walks while striking out seven in 4.2 innings of work.  Gabe Bierman and Grant Sloan were both strong in relief.

Indiana 10  Michigan 4

IU picked up two runs in the first and four more in the fourth and never looked back in the opener of the crucial series in Ann Arbor on Friday night.

Elijah Dunham and Cole Barr both drove in runs in the first inning and both had huge nights overall.  Dunham had three hits and scored twice while driving in a run while Barr also had three hits and drove in two.  Ryan Fineman also had two hits and drove in two runs on the night.

Starter Pauly Milto struggled at times but finally got more than enough run support in this one.  The right hander went six innings, allowing nine hits and four earned runs while walking one and striking out seven.  Gabe Bierman was very impressive in relief, going three perfect innings and striking out eight of the nine batters he faced.  He was credited with the save.

Indiana 10  Michigan 8

Once again Indiana put up a big run total as it pulled within a half game of Michigan after winning a back and forth contest.

Indiana’s bombers at the plate returned on Saturday, as Cole Barr, Matt Lloyd and Elijah Dunham all went deep.  Lloyd had two hits and drove in four runs on the day.  Dunham had three hits and scored three times.  Barr had two hits and scored three times.   Ryan Fineman had a bases loaded hit and drove in two runs, and Matt Gorski reached base three times on three walks and scored every time.

Starter Tanner Gordon had another strong outing, going five innings and giving up six hits and two earned runs while striking out four.  Connor Manous and Braden Scott struggled out of the bullpen, but Grant Sloan pitched a perfect 1.1 innings to slow the Wolverine rally, and Lloyd did enough in the ninth to earn the save.

Michigan 6  Indiana 5 (11 innings)

After trailing 4-2, Indiana rallied for a 5-4 lead in the top of the seventh and appeared to be headed for the series sweep and first place in the Big Ten.  Instead, a quick response in the bottom of the seventh by Michigan tied things back up and led to an 11 inning marathon in Ann Arbor.

Matt Gorski had a hit and drove in two runs.  Justin Walker had two hits and scored a run.  Elijah Dunham walked three times.

Andrew Saalfrank had a decent Sunday start for IU, but he wasn’t as dominate as he has been in recent weeks.  The lefthander went six innings, allowing four earned runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out eight.  Tommy Sommer and Grant Sloan both gave up a run in relief.

STATISTICAL LEADERS

Here are your statistical leaders through 51 games:

WHAT’S ON DECK

After seven straight games on the road, IU will return home to finish out the regular season.

Indiana will face a major test against a top 10 Louisville club before their final Big Ten series against Rutgers.  The series against the Scarlet Knights will start a day earlier than normal.

  • Tuesday, 7:00 p.m. vs. Louisville (ESPNU)
  • Thursday, 6:05 p.m. vs. Rutgers
  • Friday, 6:05 p.m. vs Rutgers (BTN)
  • Saturday, 12:05 p.m. vs. Rutgers (BTN)

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