IU Splits With NU
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- In its regular season finale, the Indiana baseball team split a doubleheader with Northwestern on Sunday winning the first game, 11-9, but falling in game two, 5-3, at Sembower Field. The Hoosiers (33-20) finished with a 16-15 record in Big Ten play and will enter this week's Big Ten Conference Tournament as the No. 6 seed.
"In the second game we made a couple of defensive miscues," IU head coach Bob Morgan said. "Northwestern did a good job responding and took advantage of our mistakes. We did a good job in the first game. We were able to capitalize when we had two outs. We were hoping to gain momentum going into the second game. We need to give Northwestern's pitchers credit. They did a great job in the second game against us."
In the first contest, Indiana blazed out to a 5-0 lead after the first inning. Kenny Marrs drew a leadoff walk and Northwestern retired the next two batters. Marrs stole second base and then moved around to third on an errant throw by the Wildcat catcher. Vasili Spanos drove Marrs home as he smoked single to third base. Ryan Parker followed with a base hit to right field, putting Spanos on third. Parker successfully stole second base and Spanos made his move for home plate. Spanos was safe at the plate on an error by the Wildcat shortstop. Ryan Donley kept things going with a base on balls and Mark Calkins then reached on another Northwestern error, allowing Parker to score. Kevin Mahar singled to third base and scored Donley. Cody Wargo followed with a base hit to right field, plating Calkins and giving the Hoosiers a 5-0 advantage.
The Wildcats battled back, and scored seven unanswered runs in their next three trips to the plate. NU touched IU starting pitcher Jacob Cary for two runs in the second and three in the third.
Fellow senior Kevin O'Brien replaced Cary to start the fourth inning. The Wildcats pushed two more runs across in that frame to gain a 7-5 lead.
Indiana struck back, piling up five more runs in the fourth. The Hoosiers started a two-out rally with Corby Heckman's walk. Spanos singled to center and moved to second on an error by the centerfielder. Parker drove in Heckman from third base with a base hit to right. Donley collected his banged a hit to the shorstop and Spanos scored to tie the game. Calkins continued the string of hits with an RBI single to right. Northwestern then changed pitchers, inserting Dan Pohlman for start Dan Brauer. Mahar walked and then Wargo ripped a base-clearing double to left-center to make it 10-7, IU.
Northwestern scored twice in the fifth before the Hoosiers tacked on their final run of the contest in the bottom of the fifth. Seth Bynum doubled to the fence in left-center field and then scored on Nick Evans' base hit to left for the final score, 11-9.
Redshirt freshman Austin Rhoads picked up the win in relief for Indiana and improved his season record to 3-2. Over the final three innings, he shut down the Wildcats by retiring all nine batters he faced. Brauer was tagged with the loss for Northwestern. He allowed nine hits and 10 runs, only five of them earned, while walking four and fanning one batter in 3.2 innings. Pohlman allowed three hits and one run over the final 2.1 innings.
In the nightcap, it was Northwestern who jumped out to an early lead. The Wildcats put two runs on the board in the top half of the first and added two more in the third for a 4-0 lead.
Indiana finally scored in the fourth. Heckman laced a double down the left field line and then scored as Spanos drove a single to left-center. Bynum walked to put Spanos on second and both runners came home on Wargo's double to left field. At the end of the inning, the Hoosiers had pulled within, 4-3.
In the top of the sixth, Northwestern tacked on another run for the eventual, 5-3 score. IU managed just five hits in the loss.
Mark Ori was the winner on the mound for NU. Ori, who scattered IU's five hits and three runs and struck out four, moved to 3-1 on the season. Jon Mikrut retured three straight batters in the seventh, including a strikeout, and earned his fifth save.
Freshman Josh Lewis took the loss for Indiana and his record fell to 4-2. Lewis worked five innings and gave up five runs, four of them earned, while walking three and striking out three. Freshman Chris Hynes and senior Ryan Smith worked the sixth and seventh innings for the Hoosiers, respectively.
Northwestern closed out Conference play with a 15-14 record to seal the fifth seed. Minnesota, the regular season champion and tournament host, enters as the No. 1 seed with Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State following at two, three and four. Indiana will face Michigan in its opening round game on Wednesday, May 21, at Seibert Field in Minneapolis. First pitch is set for 3:35 p.m. The Hoosiers did not face the Wolverines during the regular season. With only eight weekends of conference play, every team does not play one conference member.
"Our goal now is to look at the tournament and get healthy before Wednesday," Morgan said. "In tournament play any team can get hot and go on a run. Let's hope that that team is us. I don't know much about Michigan except that they are a good hitting team. We just need to go in there and play well."
Check back soon