Indiana advances, defeats Ohio State 11-3

Coming into this season, Indiana had won just two Big Ten Tournament titles in school history and hadn’t won one in four years. They hadn’t won a regular season title since 1949 and they hadn’t won it outright since 1932.

So needless to say, the Hoosiers had never won both in the same year.

They are one win away.

No. 1 seed and conference regular season champion Indiana fell behind 3-2 to No. 2 seed Ohio State in the top of the fifth inning but scored six runs in the fifth to roll to an 11-3 victory at Target Field in Minneapolis.

With the win, the Hoosiers advance to the championship round of the Big Ten Tournament. No. 3 seed Nebraska and Ohio State play at 4:35 p.m. in the losers’ bracket tomorrow for the right to play the Hoosiers. The winner has to take on Indiana at 8:05 p.m. If the Hoosiers win, they take the title. If they lose, the two teams in the final play again at 1:05 p.m. Sunday for the title.

And playing for the title means playing for a shot at one of the eight national seeds in the NCAA Tournament. It’s already a foregone conclusion that the Hoosiers will earn a berth and it’s close to a sure thing that they’ll be one of the 16 regional hosts. Winning the Big Ten tournament title might not make the Hoosiers a lock to be one of the top eight, but it would mean putting forth the best resume possible.

The Hoosiers were in danger of putting themselves in the losers bracket as of the bottom of the fifth inning. They had taken control early with a solo home run by catcher Kyle Schwarber in the first, a majestic blast over the right field wall for his 15th of the season. Ohio State second baseman Troy Kuhn’s RBI double in the top of the third tied it, but an RBI single by first baseman Sam Travis put the Hoosiers up 2-1 in the bottom half of the inning.

Kuhn crushed  a two-run double that one-hopped the left field wall in the top of the fifth, however, and the Buckeyes took a 3-2 lead. In the fifth, however, Indiana took control and did so in part because the Hoosiers took advantage of the wet grass and dirt at rain-soaked Target Field.

Center fielder Justin Cureton singled to left to start the inning and left fielder Chris Sujka followed with a bunt. Pitcher Brian King’s throw to second pulled shortstop Kirby Pellant off the bag and gave the Hoosiers runners on first and second. Schwarber flied to left to send Cureton to third and Travis flied out to center to score Cureton to tie the game.

After that, the Hoosiers took full advantage of the muck. Designated hitter Scott Donley dribbled a grounder to the left side of the infield and was on before OSU third baseman Jacob Bosiokovic could make a throw. IU shortstop Michael Basil followed that by ripping a single up the middle to score Sujka, giving the Hoosiers a 4-3 lead and sending Donley to third. Third baseman Dustin DeMuth then laid down a gutsy bunt with two outs. He beat it out and Donley scored to make it 5-3.

Indiana right fielder Casey Smith followed with a single to right field that scored Basil. Smith strayed too far off first base and was caught in a rundown that should have ended the inning. However, Smith slipped in the mud and Pellant slipped trying to tag him. DeMuth scored and Smith went to second.

The Hoosiers then added another run when second baseman Chad Clark hit a weak grounder to first base but King couldn’t handle an underhanded throw when trying to cover first. That allowed Smith to score to make it 8-3.

Indiana would tack on another run in the sixth on a solo home run by Travis. Travis also added an RBI double in the eighth and scored a run on a wild pitch. He finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs and four RBI.

“It’s good to get him back swinging the bat the way that he can, because it’s been a while,” IU coach Tracy Smith told the Big Ten Network. “As we keep going into the postseason, if we get him going, that will make us even more of a force to be reckoned with, I guess.”

Indiana left-hander Joey DeNato scattered seven hits and struck out six batters in seven innings of work. Right-hander Luke Harrison pitched two scoreless innings to close the game out. The Hoosiers will look to sophomore left-hander Kyle Hart Saturday night in what they hope will be the tournament clinching game.

5 comments

  1. I’m ready for a new IU shirt. Something that notes
    “IU Basketball – B1G Champs”
    “IU Baseball – B1G Champs”
    “IU Soccer – National Champs”

    Plus the sports I’ve missed.

    To go with my “Hoosier Scoop” cap.

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