Hoosiers Win Big Ten Opener Over Wildcats
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - In the Big Ten opener for both teams, the Indiana baseball team used a 15-run, 13-hit attack to drop Northwestern, 15-6, on Saturday afternoon at Sembower Field. The win gives the Hoosiers a 15-6 overall record, while the Wildcats fall to 9-9 on the season.
Hoosier starter Josh Lewis tossed 6 1/3 innings to move his perfect record to 5-0. Coming off a career-high 10-strikeout performance against Longwood on March 26, the junior struck out eight Wildcat batters while giving up three runs with no base on balls.
"It (Lewis' 5-0 start) is definitely a good start. It gives you a lot of confidence every time you go out there, especially the way we are hitting," said Lewis. "The run production I have been getting when I pitch has been awesome. It gives you a good shot at a win every time out when you get that kind of offense."
On the season, Lewis has struck out 38 batters with only six walks in 37 1/3 innings pitched.
Offensively, each of the first four Hoosier batters recorded at least two hits. Junior Reggie Watson (3-for-5) added an RBI and scored four times, while junior Jay Brant (2-for-4) plated two runs. With his two hits, Brant extended his hitting streak to a team season-best 15 games, matching junior Ryan Parker's 15-gamer.
Additionally, senior Joe Kemp (2-for-4) finished with three RBI and three runs, and Parker (3-for-5) delivered four RBI.
The Cream and Crimson jumped on the board first with six runs in the second inning off Northwestern starter George Kontos (3-2). Junior Zach Boswell scored the first run of the game on a wild pitch and after senior Kurt Weigle walked, Watson legged out an infield single as senior Corby Heckman scored on the play.
Two batters later, Kemp delivered a two-out single to center, driving in Weigle and freshman Brad Udoff to make it 4-0. Parker closed out the scoring with a base knock to left to plate Watson and Kemp.
In the fourth, IU tacked on three more runs after NU scratched across one in the third. Sophomore Josh Richardson singled and Watson walked to open the inning and advanced to second and third on a ground out by Brant. Wildcat reliever Julio Siberio intentionally walked Kemp to load the bases for Parker, who doubled down the left field line to knock in Richardson and Watson.
Kemp closed out the three-run rally by coming home safely on a wild pitch to give the Hoosiers a 9-1 1ead entering the fifth.
The Wildcats responded with a three-spot in the sixth before the Hoosiers bounced back with three in the bottom half of the inning. Watson, Brant, Kemp and Parker laced consecutive singles to start the frame, with Watson touching home on Kemp's base hit.
Boswell's sacrifice to center field pushed across Brant, and Udoff delivered a sacrifice fly to score Kemp for the final two runs of the inning and a 12-4 IU lead.
Northwestern cut it to 12-6 with two in the seventh and once again the Cream and Crimson came back in the home half of the inning. Richardson, Watson and Brant collected back-to-back-to-back singles to load the bases with nobody out.
After a Kemp fly out, Parker hit a ground ball that got by second baseman Jake Owens. Richardson and Watson scored on the error, moving it to 14-6. Boswell then recorded his second sacrifice fly of the game, plating Brant with the final Hoosier run.
"The runs are not always going to come as easy as they did today," said Indiana head coach Bob Morgan. "I thought today was going to be a low scoring game for both teams just because of how strong the wind was blowing. We got some key hits early to give us a nice lead and helped us hold off the run they made at us late."
With its 15 runs and 13 hits, Indiana has reached the 10-run plateau for the ninth time this season and the 10-hit mark for the 17th time in 21 games.
The teams return to action with a doubleheader on Sunday, April 3. First pitch for game one is slated for 1 p.m. at Sembower Field. The four-game series concludes on Monday, April 4, with a 2 p.m. starting time.
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