Three-Run Ninth Propels No. 8 Hoosiers to B1G Tournament Championship Game
May 24, 2014
OMAHA, Neb. - Top-seeded and eighth-ranked nationally Indiana (41-13) will play for its second consecutive Big Ten Tournament championship following its 7-4 victory over sixth-seeded Michigan State (31-26) on Saturday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park. The Hoosiers will meet second-seeded Nebraska (40-18) at 1:05 p.m. CT/2:05 p.m. ET on Sunday.
In a seesaw affair that saw MSU erase one-run deficits twice over the final four innings, Scott Donley smashed a go-ahead double over right fielder Jimmy Pickens head to bring in a pair and secure IU's spot in the title game.
Donley's heroics were set up by junior center fielder Tim O'Conner (hit by pitch), junior second baseman Casey Rodrigue (hit by pitch) and junior catcher Kyle Schwarber (single). After a force out, the junior designated hitter drove in Rodrigue and Schwarber with his second two-bagger of the afternoon. Junior first baseman Sam Travis scored on a wild pitch for the final 7-4 margin.
Jake Kelzer (1-2) entered the ballgame with one out in the eighth and picked up the first win of his career. The redshirt freshman pitched 1.2 scoreless innings, allowed one hit and struck out two.
Making his first start of the season and the second of his career, Evan Bell did what his team needed him to do. The sophomore right-hander tossed a career-high 4.1 innings and limited the Spartans to two runs on three hits with two walks (one intentional) and one strikeout.
First team All-Big Ten reliever Luke Harrison relieved Bell and surrendered one run on two hits in 2.2 solid innings of work.
Donley went 2-for-5 with three runs batted in and one run scored. Schwarber posted two hits in four at-bats with a pair of runs.
Catcher Joel Fisher put Michigan State on the board with a two-run double to left in the home half of the first, and Indiana responded with two of its own the next half inning.
Donley dropped his first double fair inside the left field line and senior third baseman Dustin DeMuth put runners on the corners with an infield single. Junior left fielder Brad Hartong grounded out to score Donley and move DeMuth to second, where he tied things up after a base knock through the box by junior right fielder Will Nolden.
Bell settled in after the Fisher double and set down eight straight until Fisher struck again with a base hit in the fourth. However, he was quickly erased when Hartong made a beautiful over-the-shoulder basket catch, fired it back into Rodrigue, who relayed it to Travis to double Fisher off.
Leading off the sixth after catching Johnny Nate attempting to steal second, Schwarber ripped his first single in front of Pickens. Travis followed with a rope off the left field wall for his team-leading 16th double of the season and Donley collected an RBI groundout to give the Hoosiers their first lead at 3-2.
MSU bounced back with a two-out run to even things up in the bottom half of the inning before Nolden drew a walk to lead off the seventh, moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by sophomore shortstop Nick Ramos and scored on an O'Conner two-bagger just inside the chalk down the right field line. The Spartans rallied again in the bottom of the eight, but Donley's heroics capped off IU's third victory in as many attempts in Omaha.
Indiana has three Big Ten Tournament titles (1996, 2009, 2013) in its history, including two under head coach Tracy Smith. Smith was also an assistant on the 1996 championship team.
The Hoosiers have won 14 of their last 15 games and 29 of their last 32.
IU's starters have gone 50 straight starts without surrendering more than three earned runs. In their last 15 starts, they have given up just seven earned runs in 80 innings (0.79 ERA).
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