Indiana Eliminated from Big Ten Tourney By Penn State
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. - The Indiana baseball team was eliminated from the Big Ten Conference Baseball Tournament with an 8-4 loss to Penn State on Friday afternoon. Penn State advanced to face Michigan on Saturday while the Hoosiers, who were the sixth seed in the tournament, closed their season with a 34-22 record.
"It was a well-played game on both sides," Indiana head coach Bob Morgan said. "They were a little more productive with guys in scoring position. But the key in the game is we had four errors and they didn't have any. That's what hurt us. Both teams fought hard. It's just that they came up with a few more keys hits than we had and then we had those errors."
The Hoosiers and Nittany Lions each collected 11 hits in the game, but IU stranded 12 runners on base.
Indiana gained a lead in the fifth as it scratched a run across. Junior leftfielder Kevin Mahar led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second courtesy of junior catcher Cody Wargo's sacrifice bunt. For the second time in as many days, redshirt freshman centerfielder Reggie Watson drove in the Hoosiers' opening run. Watson banged a single through the middle to give IU a 1-0 advantage.
Penn State evened the score in the bottom of the inning. With one out, Nittany Lion shortstop Willie Melendez doubled to left and went to third base as centerfielder Zack Smithlin attempted to sacrifice bunted him over. The Hoosiers were able to record the 3-1 putout, but it was a tense moment for Indiana as starting pitcher Jacob Cary was stepped on at first on the play. The senior was able to shake it off and returned to the mound.
Rightfielder Derrick Barr clubbed an infield single between shortstop and third base, allowing Melendez to score from third.
The Nittany Lions broke through to take the lead in the sixth. Wes Roehr drew base on balls to lead off the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch and then to third as Clint Eury grounded out. David Warchal's sacrifice fly to center field gave Penn State a 2-1 lead.
Lance Thompson continued the scoring surge for PSU with an RBI single up the middle. After Matt Harter walked, Mike DeRenzo followed with a base hit to center that plated Thompson. Melendez ripped his second double of the game to left and cleared the bases for a 4-1 PSU lead. Indiana replaced Cary on the mound at that point with freshman lefty Troy Ragle. Ragle promptly struck out Smithlin looking to end the inning.
The Hoosiers rallied back in the top of the seventh. Wargo walked and senior Brad DeStefano was inserted to run for the Hoosier catcher. After Waston struck out, Marrs collected a bunt single to put runners on first and second. Junior shortstop Seth Bynum banged a double into left field to push DeStefano across. Sophomore second baseman Corby Heckman drove Bynum home with a sacrifice fly to right. Penn State intentionally walked Spanos and then senior designated hitter Nick Evans collected a two-RBI single to knot the game at four runs apiece.
Penn State responded in the bottom half of the inning. The Nittany Lions began the frame with a pair of singles. Eury bunted with the intention of moving runners, but Spanos' throw to first went wide and both scored on the play to give Penn State a 6-4 lead. Thompson doubled to plate Eury and then Harter knocked Thompson in to gain a four-run lead.
Indiana was unable to break through in the eighth or ninth and Penn State defeated the Hoosiers for the third time this season.
Aaron Tressler picked up the win in relief for Penn State. Tressler took over for starter Clayton Hamilton with two outs in the seventh and gave up just two hits, walked two and struck out three. Cary worked the initial 5.2 innings for the Hoosiers. He scattered six hits and four runs while walking three and recording three strikeouts. Ragle took the loss for Indiana and fell to 1-3 on the season. The rookie pitched two-thirds of an inning and gave up three hits and four runs, three of them earned. He tallied one strikeout.
Spanos, Cary, Evans, Marrs, DeStefano, Mark Calkins, Chad Coder, Ryan Smith and Kevin O'Brien played in their final game in an Indiana uniform.
The Hoosiers won more than 30 games for the second straight season and for the 17th time in Morgan's 20 seasons as the head coach at Indiana.
"It's always disappointing to end your season," Morgan said. "You hate to see your seniors go. But going into the season, we lost our second baseman, right fielder and top pitchers. To think we'd do what we did this year, I'm proud of the kids. We did have a good season. You'd always like to go a little further, but I thought we had a good year and I thought we got the most out of our kids, and that's how you measure success. Our kids performed and played hard and so I felt good about what they accomplished. It's just that it always leaves a bad taste in your mouth when you lose your last game."
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