For the second time this season, Indiana has dropped a weekend series — and this one cost the No. 21 Hoosiers their spot atop the Big Ten standings. After bouncing back from Friday’s 10-3 loss at Michigan with a 13-8 victory over the Wolverines on Saturday, IU fell 6-1 in Sunday’s rubber game.
With the two losses, IU sits one game behind first-place Nebraska with five games on deck — including two against the Cornhuskers — over the next eight days.
Here are Three Things:
A tough way to end the weekend
The Hoosiers had the pitcher they wanted on the mound for the finale. It just ... didn’t work out. Gabe Bierman, who had claimed victories in each of his previous four starts, pitched into the eighth inning and, at one point, retired 12 of 14 batters during the latter half of his outing. It wasn’t a shutdown outing, as he walked four and allowed a run to score on a wild pitch. But it was still a decent, admirable performance from Bierman, who toughed his way through 7.1 innings, while getting charged for four runs on five hits with five strikeouts and 11 groundouts.
Hoosier hitters, meanwhile, struggled to string together a much-needed rally. Of IU’s five hits on the day, the only one that produced a run was Morgan Colopy’s fifth-inning homer. Indiana also went just 1-for-12 with runners on base.
Free pass to victory
Indiana smacked 11 hits en route to its 13-8 victory on Saturday, while also taking advantage of some gimmes from Michigan pitchers. During a decisive six-run top of the eighth inning, the Hoosiers worked four walks courtesy of patient at-bats from Collin Hopkins, Jeremy Houston, Drew Ashley and Grant Richardson, and saw another batter, Paul Toetz, get hit by a pitch. All five of those players eventually came home to score as IU found some breathing room and opened a 13-5 lead midway through the inning.
This trip was a bummer, but it wasn’t (and it’s not) all bad
A tough night on the mound and a lack of timely hitting at the plate doomed IU in the opener, but the Hoosiers demonstrated some maturity in answering with a big win on Saturday afternoon. In that contest, McCade Brown was once again excellent, turning in a quality start with seven strikeouts, two walks and three hits allowed. Brown yielded only one hit over the first six shutout innings before Michigan chased him early in the seventh, tagging him for three runs in the process.
So that was a bright spot. There were other highlights sprinkled in, as well, such as Cole Barr reaching base eight times and driving in four runs over the first two games of the series. Grant Richardson and Kip Fougerousse also drove in four runs apiece on Saturday, including a three-run homer from Richardson in the top of the seventh. Ashley and Toetz, by the way, found their way onto the basepaths in all three games this weekend, extending their respective reached-base streaks to 20 games each.
And as for the standings, IU will have a chance to reorder things this weekend when it plays two games each against Nebraska and Rutgers as part of a pod at Bart Kaufman Field. First, however, the Hoosiers will get to make up the April 11 rainout when they host Illinois on Tuesday at 3 p.m. Eastern.