Hoosiers Win Road Series at Penn State
March 25, 2012
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. - Indiana Baseball began the 2012 Big Ten season by recording a road series victory at Penn State, taking a 2-1 win in the series rubber match on Sunday. The Hoosiers (10-14, 2-1 Big Ten) have now won six of their last nine games, eight of which came on the road.
Offense was at a premium throughout with just nine hits total. Sam Travis was responsible for two of Indiana's four base hits, extending his current hitting streak to 11 games. Michael Basil and Chris Sujka connected for the other two hits. Sujka's double in the sixth inning proved to be the difference, driving in a pair of Hoosier runs to go ahead, 2-0.
Freshman Kyle Hart continued his impressive rookie campaign on the hill, giving up a lone run on three hits, two walks and striking out two in 5.1 innings of work. He was awarded with his first career `W' and now owns a 3.19 ERA through six starts this season. The Hoosier bullpen took care of the rest. A four-man relief crew served up just two hits during the final 3.2 shutout innings to seal the victory. In total, the IU pitching staff did not allow any extra-base hits.
The only runs scored in the game came in the sixth, starting with a two-out rally in the top of the inning. Travis doubled and Basil was hit by a pitch to put a pair of Hoosiers on the base paths. Sujka stepped into the box next, lifting a pitch over the head of the PSU rightfielder and two-hopping to the wall. As Sujka rolled into second for a stand-up double, Basil circled around all the way from first to follow in Travis and light the scoreboard twice.
In the home half, Penn State was able to get runners on the corners with just one out. Head Coach Tracy Smith made the call to bring in Ryan Halstead. After striking out the first Lion he faced, he plunked the next to load the bases. Halstead then responded by fooling the subsequent hitter on a breaking ball and getting a groundball. Unfortunately, the dribbler was so weak it didn't give the IU defense enough time to charge and throw out the hitter. Penn State cut it's deficit in half after scoring a run on the infield hit.
Halstead then got squeezed on back-to-back two-strike pitches on the outside corner. Undeterred, he shook off the bit of bad luck and induced another groundball. Only this time it was a rocket back up the middle; one that Halstead made a hockey goalie style "kick save" on to knock down, pick up and fire to first to end the inning and strand three Nittany Lions.
The sixth inning was the first of three threats on Indiana's lead. The next scare came in the seventh when Saturday night's hero Elliot Searer, who hit a walk-off single in game two, led off with a single. Following two pop-ups, Kyle Schwarber extinguished the PSU scoring effort though by gunning out Searer attempting to steal second.
Drama hit its highest level in the bottom of the ninth. Two walks and just one out forced Coach Smith out of the dugout once again to make another pitching change. He called on Jonny Hoffman to close things outs. It marked Hoffman's third appearance of the weekend, having already pitched a total of 5.1 innings in the first two games of the series.
The tension thickened even more when Hoffman's very first pitch beaned Searer in the shoulder and jammed the bases full with still just the lone out. His first pitch to the next hitter missed the mark. Ball one. It was followed by one across the plate. Called strike. Then came a shot right back at Hoffman, who hesitated for a second (further adding to the suspense) before tossing home to nab the lead runner. Schwarber quickly twisted his torso and fired down the line to complete the game-ending double play, beating the runner by a half-step.
Indiana will now hold its first homestand of the season, a five-game stint at Sembower Field. The extended stay in Bloomington comes after playing 22 of the first 23 games on the road. Midweek games against Xavier (March 27) and Ball State (Apr. 4) book-end a weekend series against the Iowa Hawkeyes (Mar. 30-31 - Apr. 1).
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