Gorski, Cross help Hoosiers to comeback win over Spartans

Wyatt Cross looked to the sky above him, believing the ball was headed out of play.

Instead, it fell where no Michigan State fielder could grab it, extending Indiana’s stay at the Big Ten Tournament by at least one more day.

Cross’ flare single to left field scored Cole Barr in the bottom of the 10th inning, sending the No. 5 Hoosiers to a 6-5 come-from-behind win over the No. 8 Spartans in Thursday’s second elimination game at T.D. Ameritrade Park in Omaha.

Indiana, which was one out away from returning to Bloomington, charged back from a five-run sixth-inning deficit to complete the extra-inning shocker. Up next, the Hoosiers will face No. 4 Illinois on Friday at 8:30 p.m.

“Not a great game, but a great finish for us,” IU coach Chris Lemonis said.

This was the kind of comeback victory Indiana authored so many times during the first half of the season, the kind of win made possible by the Hoosiers’ big swing potential.

With IU trailing 5-2 with two outs and runners on the corners in the bottom of the ninth, Indiana relied on the long ball, with Matt Gorksi propelling a hanging breaking ball deep over the left field fence to tie the game.

“I just got a really good pitch to hit,” Gorski said. “It was the pitch I was looking for and I got a really good swing off on it.”

And for an IU team that, until that moment, seemed hampered by the cavernous, pitcher-friendly conditions of T.D. Ameritrade Park, it was a sign of new life.

“They way our offense is built, we do hit the long ball,” Lemonis said. “It’s probably not built great for this park, but it gives us an opportunity to come back.”

In the 10th, Cole Barr kept the momentum going with a one-out single to center, before stealing second on a bang-bang play at the bag. It was a prosperous call in the Hoosiers’ favor, as Cross took the next pitch he saw and looped it into shallow left field for the game-winning hit.

“Coach told me once Cole got on, if I got a pitch early, to take,” Cross said. “I saw Cole get a good jump, it was a fastball away and I took it. Cole had a great steal and slid in there, so then I was just looking for a pitch to hit.”

Until Gorski’s shot, Indiana’s lineup lacked its signature punch in timely moments. After collecting merely three hits in an ugly tournament-opening loss to Illinois on Wednesday night, IU saw some of the same struggles continue throughout much of the elimination game 24 hours later.

IU managed only one baserunner through the first five innings of Thursday’s game, and by the time they found their first hit on Matt Lloyd’s RBI single in the bottom of the sixth, the Hoosiers had already yielded five runs to the Spartans.

Indiana starter Pauly Milto struggled through his second-shortest start of the season, lasting only three full innings. Milto pitched to four batters in the fourth and was charged with two of the three runs Michigan State scored in the frame.

The Spartans churned out four consecutive hits to start the fourth, including back-to-back RBI singles to chase Milto after 55 pitches. Reliever Cam Beauchamp entered in relief and allowed a bases-loaded walk.

Michigan State plated two more runs against IU’s Cal Krueger across the fifth and sixth innings, using run-scoring singles from Chad Roskelly and Bryce Kelley.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, struggled to get the situational hits they craved, settling for Gorski’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. In between, IU stranded the bases loaded in back-to-back innings, beginning with the seventh.

But Gorski’s long ball and Cross’ game-winning single more than made up for it when the Hoosiers needed runs the most, allowing IU to extend its stay in Omaha by at least another day.

“We live to play another day,” Lemonis said, “which is exciting.”

5 comments

  1. Down 3 runs with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th. What can you say? I haven’t been able to figure this team out since B1G season began. Prior to conference play it looked like might have another CWS bound team, but the wheels certainly fell off the wagon. Needed to perform much better in B1G than have so far. Definitely need to well in the rest of the B1G tournament.

  2. I sort of feel a parallel with the lady Hoosiers basketball team this past year. IU baseball team is respectable and works hard to compete but just not there yet as in talent level to be more consistently dominant. So, IU baseball like several big ten teams is at a point where games can go either way.

    1. t,

      Unless one of the other B1G teams surprise us in the NCAAs we may be starting to realize how special the IU CWS team a few years ago really was. When I saw this year’s team do so well prior to conference I thought there was a chance if they dominated the B1G as did the 2013 team. I don’t see a B1G team having a chance to advance to the CWS unless they dominate both in conference and also do well in a strong non conference schedule. The B1G is just too weak a baseball conference to go very far otherwise. The NCAA historical records over the last 50 years make that pretty clear.

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