The Big Ten Baseball Tournament opened this morning with plenty of hopeful Hoosier fans in the stands despite the rain. Those fans were concerned when Jonathan Stiever gave up a run in the bottom of the 1st. Following that shaky first inning, Stiever settled down and threw three scoreless innings before giving up a two run homer in the bottom of the 5th. He finished having allowed 4 runs and 6 hits while collecting 5 K’s over 5.1 innings of work.
The Hoosier bats were hot early. Alex Krupa brought in the first run on a single to right field in the 2nd inning to make the score 1-1.
In the top of the 4th inning, Craig Dedelow crushed a fastball over the fence, giving Indiana the lead, which they would have lost in the bottom of that very inning if not for a great defensive play by Logan Sowers, Jeremy Houston, and Ryan Fineman.
The 5th inning was where the Hoosiers did most of their damage. Jeremy Houston started the inning with a walk. He then stole 2nd and 3rd base on back to back pitches. Tony Butler followed that up with a walk and another stolen base. With those two runners in scoring position, Matt Lloyd broke the game open on a 2 RBI double to left center which made the score 4-1.
After the Minnesota home run made the score 4-3, Indiana almost grabbed another run, but the third base umpire deemed that Luke Miller had left third early on a sac fly. He was called out and the inning ended.
Timmy Herrin relieved Stiever in the bottom of the 6th with a runner of 3rd base. He gave up a sac fly to even the score at 4-4, and an inning later he allowed what would become the winning run to cross the plate on a single up the middle. His final line was 4 hits and 1 run allowed with 2 strikeouts over 2.2 innings.
One very concerning thing about this loss was that all of Minnesota’s runs came with 2 outs. Yeah, that’s right. Indiana repeatedly got two outs in an inning and then let the Gophers score. That isn’t a winning formula no matter how good your offense is. If the Hoosiers want to win a game anytime soon, they’ll have to toughen up in the field and on the mound with two outs.
The Hoosiers’ next game could be important for their national tournament outlook, as a loss to Northwestern might knock them out of consideration for a bid, and a loss to Michigan could put them on the bubble.
Indiana will be back in action Thursday morning at 10 a.m. against the loser of the Michigan/Northwestern game. Indiana won their series against each of those teams, including a sweep of Northwestern in Evanston. Pauly Milto should be the starter as the Hoosiers look to stay alive in the tournament.