Hoosiers Fall to Vermont
BRADENTON, Fla. - The Indiana baseball team lost for the first time in five games, dropping a 5-3 decision to Vermont at Academy Park on Friday afternoon. The two teams played a seven-inning game due to postponements of Thursday's games. IU is now 4-1 on its spring break trip and 10-4 overall, and the Catamounts are 1-0 in Florida and 3-1 on the season.
The Hoosiers trailed 2-1 entering the sixth before junior Jay Brant opened the frame with a double to left. After senior Joe Kemp walked, junior Ryan Parker laid down a bunt and Catamount starter Derek Miller slipped trying to field it, as everyone was safe on the play. Miller left the game with an injury, and Chris Marsh entered the game with the bases loaded and nobody out.
Senior Corby Heckman greeted Marsh with a base hit to center field, plating Brant and Kemp to give Indiana a 3-2 lead, which it held until the bottom of the seventh.
The Catamounts put runners on first and third with one out in the seventh for Raymond Montanez, who drilled a walk-off, three-run homer to left center field off reliever Steve Nielsen (1-1) to give Vermont the come-from-behind victory.
Hoosier starter Chris McCombs and Miller, a 2004 draft pick of the Milwaukee Brewers, pitched well, but neither factored in the decision. McCombs went five innings and did not allow an earned run. The freshman also gave up four hits and struck out three.
In his two starts, McCombs has not given up an earned run in 10 innings pitched, and he has not surrendered an earned run in his last 13 stanzas. The Louisville, Ky., native holds a team-leading 0.57 ERA (one earned run in 15 2/3 innings) on the season.
Miller allowed two earned runs in five-plus innings on five hits to go along with two walks and three Ks. Reliever Joe Serafin retired the final batter in the seventh to pick up his second win in two decisions this year.
The Hoosiers struck first for the fifth time in as many games with one run in the top of the first but could have had more. Brant walked and Kemp doubled with one out, putting runners on second and third for Parker. The Hilliard, Ohio, native grounded a ball to third baseman Miguel Magrass, who threw home to cutdown Brant at the plate.
With runners on the corners, Miller caught Parker in a rundown in an attempt to pick him off first. However, first baseman Jay Iannoni threw wildly to second base, allowing Kemp to come in with the first run of the ballgame.
Vermont tied it up with an unearned run in the second and placed a runner at third with two down in the third frame, but McCombs got Magrass to ground out to Parker at first for out number three. The tally was the first run allowed by McCombs in 10 2/3 innings pitched and the first run allowed in his two starts (7 2/3 innings).
The Catamounts took the lead in the fourth when Matt Naimoli delivered a two-out single, driving in Andrew Folley to make it 2-1. Looking to add to their lead, Iannoni was thrown out at the plate on an attempted double steal to close out the inning.
It could have been a bigger inning for Vermont if not for a brilliant defensive effort by center fielder Reggie Watson. Leading off the inning, Kyle Brault hit a drive into the left center field gap and appeared to have extra bases until Watson sprawled out to make a diving catch to rob the junior. The catch was the fourth diving stab Watson has made in five games in Florida; he later added one in the fifth inning.
The Cream and Crimson was three feet short from tying it up in the fifth. Freshman Brad Udoff hit a towering drive off the left field fence, just missing his first collegiate home run, instead settling for a leadoff double. Following a sacrifice bunt by senior Kurt Weigle, Miller struck out sophomore Josh Richardson looking and retired Watson with a fly out to right, exiting the inning unscathed.
Parker (1-for-3), Heckman (1-for-3) and Brant (1-for-2) extended their hitting streaks to 12, 10 and eight games, respectively. Heckman drove in a pair of runs, and Brant doubled and stole his team-best eighth base. In addition, Kemp added a 1-for-3 afternoon with two runs scored and his fifth double of the season.
IU returns to the field against Kent State on Saturday, March 19, at 12:30 p.m. EST. The game will be played at McKechnie Field, the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
*McCombs had not allowed a run since Feb. 26 against Memphis, a span of 10 2/3 innings, before Vermont's third-inning tally. The freshman has not allowed an earned run since the Memphis game, a span of 13 innings pitched.
*Junior Ryan Parker moved his hitting streak to 12 games, and senior Corby Heckman extended his streak to 10 games. Additionally, junior Jay Brant currently holds an eight-game streak.
*Senior Joe Kemp and junior Ryan Parker both reached base in today's game and have reached in each of the 14 games the Hoosiers have played this season. Junior Reggie Watson did not reach base for the first time in a game this year.
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