Hoosiers Edged by Illini
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - The Indiana baseball team came up short in the series finale against Big Ten Conference leading Illinois, dropping a 7-5 decision on Sunday afternoon at Sembower Field. Following the defeat, the Hoosiers are now 20-19 on the season and 4-12 in the conference, while the Fighting Illini move to 23-12-1 overall and 12-4 league play.
The Illini snatched the lead with a solo tally in the first and added three in both the third and fourth innings. Center fielder Drew Davidson ripped a two-run double off freshman starter Brad Davidson (3-2), and first baseman Dusty Bensko punched him in with a base knock, accounting for the three third-inning runs.
In the fourth, U of I collected an unearned run before shortstop Toby Gardenhire delivered a two-RBI gapper into left center field to make it 7-0.
Senior right fielder Joe Kemp put the Cream and Crimson on the board in the fifth with a long ball over the right field wall, plating junior left fielder Jay Brant in the process. The blast was Kemp's seventh of the season, equaling junior Zach Boswell for the team lead.
IU loaded the bags with two down in the seventh after back-to-back singles by senior third baseman Corby Heckman and sophomore second baseman Josh Richardson, and senior catcher Kurt Weigle was hit by a pitch. However, Illini starter Jake Stewart (1-0) escaped the jam, retiring freshman shortstop Tyler Cox on a ground out to second baseman J.R. Kyes.
The Hoosiers again filled the bases with two outs in the eighth when Brant, junior first baseman Ryan Parker and Boswell drew walks. Heckman worked Indiana's fourth free pass in the frame to score Brant with the team's third run of the contest.
Right-hander Brandon Murphy entered the ballgame, and Richardson greeted him with a shot back through the middle as Parker and Boswell touched home to cut the Illinois' lead to 7-5. Weigle followed with a rocket into center field right at Davidson, who made the catch to end the inning.
Junior southpaw Adam Poole relieved Davidson in the fourth inning and pitched six shutout innings, giving the Cream and Crimson a chance in the bottom of the ninth. However, Murphy set Indiana down in the inning to close out the game.
In his six innings of work, Poole held the Illini to four hits to go along with a pair of strikeouts and two bases on balls.
Stewart earned his first victory of the season for Illinois, spreading 12 hits over seven innings and giving up two runs with one walk and three Ks. Murphy pitched the final 1 1/3 for his first save of the season. Overall, Fighting Illini hurlers stranded 16 runners on base.
Richardson led the Hoosier offensive attack, slugging four hits in five at-bats in addition to driving in two. Watson and Cox each delivered a couple of hits.
Up next, IU remains at Sembower Field for a weekday matinee with Marian College. First pitch is slated for 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 26.
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