Second-Day Split With Minnesota
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Indiana baseball team salvaged a second-day split against 27th-ranked and Big Ten Conference leader Minnesota on Sunday afternoon, winning game one, 2-0, but falling, 10-2, in the second. Hoosier junior Chris Behrens pitched the first shutout of his career in the opener, allowing just six hits to a potent Gopher offense.
Minnesota won the series overall, three games to one, after sweeping the Hoosiers on Saturday in a doubleheader. Indiana is now 27-15 overall and even at 10-10 in league contests. The Gophers' record is now 27-15 overall and 15-3 in Big Ten games.
"They are a solid team and if you make a mistake, they will take advantage of it," head coch Bob Morgan said. "A big reason why we struggled is because of our offense. We weren't good enough offensively. We just didn't swing the bats. We didn't play as well as we needed to. They are a first-place team, a great team, and we have to give them credit. They are solid up and down the lineup."
Behrens followed up his first career complete game last weekend with a shutout of the league's offense top offense. The southpaw pitched a five-hit complete game win at second-place Ohio State last Sunday. Behrens struck out four and walked four as he improved to 4-2 on the season. Jay Gagner took the loss for the Gophers, slipping to 3-4. Gagner was responsible for all seven IU hits and both runs. He walked one and recorded four strikeouts.
Offensively, the Hoosiers jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Senior leftfelder Mark Calkins hit a one-out single to left field. Sophomore second baseman Corby Heckman chased Calkins with a base hit to right-center. Senior third baseman Vasili Spanos stroked a hit to left field and Calkins came home. Spanos was thrown out at second after oversliding the bag.
The Hoosier bats were fairly quiet until the sixth frame when Heckman lifted a leadoff home run over the wall in left. The long ball was the first Spencer, Ind., product's career.
The intensity level rose in the top of the seventh. Gopher first baseman David Roach started the inning with a single up hte middle. Luke McLean was then inserted to pinch hit and reached on fielder's choice that put Roach out at second. Leadoff hitter Sam Stiedl smacked a single through the left side before designated hitter Jon Becker moved both runners with a groundout to third. That brought second baseman and 2002 Big Ten Tri-Player of the year Luke Appert to the plate. Appert appeared to have broken the game open with a triple down the right field line, but it was ruled foul. Behrens got Appert to swing a pitch for strike three and closed the book with a victory.
In game two, IU fell victim to the big inning. The game was tied at two runs apeice heading into the sixth inning, but Minnesota sent 11 players to the plate and scored seven runs to take control. With the bases loaded, senior Kevin O'Brien walk entered to pitch for Troy Ragle. O'Brien walked a runner in and then the scoring flood began with Appert's double down the right field line. After just two batters, senior Ryan Smith relieved O'Brien. IU intentionally walked Scott Welch to load the bases, but designated hitter Andy Hunter came up big, ripping a base-clearing triple down the right field line.
The Gophers added their 10th and final run in the seventh as Ben Pattee hit a solo homer to left-center with two outs.
Ragle took the loss in relief for starter Austin Rhoads, who pitched the intial 3.2 innings. Ragle gave up just one hit, but allowed three earned runs. The rookie walked two, struck out two and hit one batter. The Hoosiers used five pitchers in the game as redshirt freshman Dan Pezley worked the final inning for IU.
Matt Loberg was the winning pitcher for the Gophers improving to 4-1. He worked six innings allowing just three hits and no earned runs.
After going 2-for-3 with an RBI in the first game, Spanos' 18-game hitting streak was halted in game two.
Indiana will host Indiana Wesleyan on Wednesday, April 30, for a 3 p.m. game at Sembower Field. Next weekend, they head back out on the road for a four-game series, May 2-5, at Penn State. The series with the Nittany Lions will be a pivotal series in the Big Ten race as both teams own 10-10 records and are tied for fourth.
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