Hoosiers Even Series, Remain in Second Place
May 12, 2012
EVANSTON, Ill. - Another brilliant long relief effort from Jonny Hoffman thrust Indiana Baseball into another Sunday rubber match following a 5-2 Hoosier win over Northwestern (17-32, 6-17 Big Ten) in game two. Six days after recording a pair of four-inning saves in the same day against Nebraska, Hoffman clocked in for a 4.1-inning shift on the bump to earn the win and improve to 5-1.
Indiana (25-26, 12-8) is tied for second place in the conference standings with four Big Ten games to play. The top-two teams receive a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Penn State has matched IU's 12-8 mark in Big Ten competition thus far, but Indiana owns the tiebreaker by taking two out of three in Happy Valley earlier this season.
Micah Johnson recorded three of Indiana's eight hits on the day, driving in two runs along the way. Starting pitcher Kyle Hart faced just one over the minimum through four innings before allowing two runs to sneak in and handing it over to Hoffman. Indiana's side-armer emerged from the bullpen with two-on and two-out to face Paul Sneider; who blistered a line-drive to deep center. Justin Cureton was on his horse, however, tracking the hard-hit rocket and making an over-the-shoulder snag while in a full sprint a step or two in front of the warning track. Cureton's defensive highlight preserved a 3-2 IU lead.
The Hoosiers had gotten on the board in the previous inning, finally breaking through for three runs in the fourth. Indiana left the bases loaded in both the second and third frames, and was one out away from doing so again in the fourth. Northwestern helped out by nudging in the first run with a bases-loaded walk to Sam Travis. Johnson then pulled a pitch into right field to drive in two more runs.
Northwestern's relievers were just as effective as Hoffman until the top of the ninth when Indiana cashed in on a pair of insurance runs. Travis got it started with a lead-off single piercing the left side of the infield. After a strikeout and Dillon Dooney walk, Michasel Basil stepped into the box and delivered a single into right to jam the bags full of Hoosiers. Dustin DeMuth put the next ball in play, reaching on a fielder's choice and most importantly bringing home another Hoosier run. A grounder from pinch-hitting Trace Knoblauch gobbled up the NU third baseman later in the inning, handing over run number five.
Hoffman walked a tight rope in the bottom of the ninth, giving up two hits and facing the tying run at the dish. He received some help from his good friend Micah Johnson for the third and final out though as a diving Johnson snared a grounder and tossed to second base for a force.
Game Three is slated for a 3 pm EST (2 pm local) start and will be broadcast nationally on the Big Ten Network. Live stats can be found at IUHoosiers.com and in-game updates on Twitter (@KKatIU).
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