B1G Tourney Championship On the Line Sunday
May 26, 2013
MINNEAPOLIS - It took 11 innings to force a winner-take-all Sunday showdown for the Big Ten Tourney title. Nebraska (29-29) handed the 11th-ranked Hoosiers (42-14) their first loss of the double elimination tournament Saturday night, walking off with a homerun in the bottom of the 1tth.
The three-plus hour affair saw three lead changes and three tied scores as the momentum was in never ending motion. Tanner Lubach's first hit of the tournament came in the biggest moment, crushing a homer in extra innings to extend his Huskers' season at least one more day.
The Huskers drew first blood off Kash Kalkowski's two-run blast in the bottom of the opening frame. Chad Christensen started the two-out rally by rolling a single through the right side and was quickly followed up by the NU long-ball.
Nebraska challenged again in the next inning, pushing a runner all the way to third base. Back-to-back strikeouts from Kyle Hart extinguished the threat, however, keeping the Hoosiers within a two-tally deficit.
The subsequent half inning Kyle Schwarber flexed his muscle, powering an opposite field homerun down the left field line to match the score at two runs apiece. Will Nolden made the two-run shot possible, singling through the right side just as NU had on its first inning homerun. It was Schwarber's Big Ten-best 16th long-ball of the season and second of the tournament.
Nolden struck the flame again in the fifth for Indiana, stroking a single to start the two-out rally. Scwharber prolonged it with a base knock of his own. Sam Travis then delivered a towering explosion into the Target Field upper deck, pushing the Hoosiers on top, 5-2.
Sophomore bash brothers Schwarber and Travis both went yard in Friday night's victory as well. The duo has hit homeruns in the same game four times in their careers, also doing so March 30 and April 24, 2012 versus Iowa and Miami (OH), respectively.
The Huskers weren't ready for their season to end, charging right back with back-to-back two-run innings in the sixth and seventh. Nebraska's four-run outburst launched it back in the lead, 6-5, heading to the eighth inning.
Dustin DeMuth wasn't ready to just hand it over either though. He doubled into the right center field gap in the top of the ninth, representing the tying run in scoring position. Two batters later with two outs, pinch hitter Ricky Alfonso made his way to the dish with Indiana down to its final out. Alfonso fell behind 0-2 in the count, further stretching the Hoosiers down to their final strike. He fouled off several pitches and eventually dropped a double just inside the right field chalk line to bring in DeMuth and even the score at 6-6. Alfonso is now 7-for-20 (.350) with 6 RBI as a pinch hitter this season.
Both teams threatened in the 10th inning before ultimately coming away with nothing. Lubach then delivered the final dagger, a lead-off homerun to secure a Sunday showdown.
Expected pitching match-up for the championship crown pits LHP Will Coursen-Carr (2-0, 1.55) vs. LHP Kyle Kubat (5-0, 1.81).
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