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Indiana baseball sweeps Rutgers, splits with Nebraska, takes 1/2 game lead on Michigan in Big Ten

Indiana won three of its four games in Piscataway, N.J. this weekend, emerging with a 23-10 record and a 1/2 game lead on Michigan for first place in the Big Ten standings heading into a critical series between the two teams this coming weekend in Ann Arbor.

Due to a pandemic-year scheduling quirk, the Hoosiers played two games against Rutgers, then two games against Nebraska in Rutgers’ home ball park over the weekend, playing a double-header on Saturday with one game each against the two opponents.

The Hoosiers won their weekend opener over Rutgers 8-3 on Friday with catcher Collin Hopkins and shortstop James Espalin each driving in a pair of runs in a six-run eighth inning. Junior left hander Tommy Sommer struck out six batters in 6 2/3 innings in a no-decision.

The Hoosiers won the early game Saturday against Rutgers 5-3 in 11 innings thanks to a two-run home run by first baseman Jordan Fucci in the 11th. IU pitcher McCade Brown didn’t give up a hit in his first six innings and struck out 11 batters, but he surrendered a solo home run to Rutgers first baseman Mike Nyistor in the seventh to give the Scarlet Knights a 1-0 lead. Catcher Collin Hopkins drove home a run with a single in the ninth to force extra innings, however, before the Hoosiers won in 11.

In the afternoon game Saturday against Nebraska the Hoosiers fell 7-6 on a walk-off single by catcher Gunner Hellstrom. Indiana third baseman Cole Barr homered twice and drove in four runs in the loss and center fielder Grant Richardson stole a home run with a catch that earned a place in SportsCenter’s Top 10.

Indiana right-hander Gabe Bierman struck out 11 batters in a complete-game victory Sunday, allowing two runs on four hits in a 4-2 win. The Hoosiers got all four of their runs in the first with a two-run single by Cole Barr and RBI singles by Ethan Vecrumba and Collin Hopkins.

The Michigan series begins Friday at 4 p.m. on BTN+. Saturday’s game is at 2 p.m. on BTN+ and Sunday’s game is at 1 p.m. on ESPN2.

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