Hoosiers split doubleheader, clinch series win at Michigan State

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Indiana’s nine-game winning streak ended with a 5-3 loss in the first game of Sunday afternoon’s doubleheader at Michigan State.

But the Hoosiers rebounded with a decisive 11-2 win in Game 2 of the twin bill at McLane Stadium, clinching a series win and climbing into first place in the Big Ten Standings.

IU (27-13, 9-3) is now a half-game ahead of second-place Nebraska, which lost its weekend series at Iowa.

The Hoosiers’ Game 1 loss was a product of a five-run bottom of the seventh inning for Michigan State (10-27, 1-10), which dug out of a 3-0 deficit thanks to some weird baseball.

After Dan Chmielewski’s one-out single to centerfield plated the Spartans’ first run, Bryce Kelley’s two-run, sun-aided bloop double down the right field line tied the game. Michigan State then took the lead on a two-run squeeze bunt by Justin Antoncic. That was enough to propel the Spartans to their first Big Ten win of the season.

Game 1 starter Tanner Gordon left the game after he was struck by a line drive with two outs in the fifth. Gordon, who allowed only two hits over five scoreless frames, finished the inning, but did not return for the sixth. The right-hander struck out seven and didn’t walk any hitters, throwing 49 of his 69 pitches for strikes.

Gordon’s departure led IU coach Jeff Mercer to turn to swingman Tommy Sommer, who was charged with four of Michigan State’s runs in the seventh. Connor Manous, who was on the mound for both the double and the bunt, was charged for one run.

Each of IU’s runs scored across the sixth and seventh innings, with Matt Lloyd providing the first RBI of the game on a double to center in the sixth. He came around to score moments later on Cole Barr’s sacrifice fly, pushing Indiana to a 2-0 lead. Justin Walker gave the Hoosiers a three-run cushion in the seventh on a one-out solo home run.

Lloyd was the only Hoosier with multiple hits, finishing 2-for-4 in the opener.

In the finale, left-hander Andrew Saalfrank continued his recent run of excellent starts with 11 strikeouts across his seven innings of work. Saalfrank yielded merely two hits, while walking one, inducing eight groundouts in the process.

Saalfrank has now struck out 10 or more batters in four consecutive starts and five of his last six starts.

With Saalfrank dealing, IU’s lineup took care of the rest. The Hoosiers collected 12 hits, including three each from Lloyd and Matt Gorski, who finished 3-for-6 with four RBIs. Gorski started the game with a two-run homer in the top of the first, before adding a two-run double in the eighth.

Gorski’s first-inning blast was one of three IU home runs in the contest. Walker added his second homer of the day with a solo shot in the sixth, and Wyatt Cross capped the scoring with a two-run home run in the ninth.

Elijah Dunham also supplied a two-run double in the top of the fourth for Indiana, which finished 8-for-20 with runners on base.

FRIDAY

Pauly Milto pitched seven solid innings and Indiana clubbed 15 hits to bury Michigan State, 13-4, in the baseball series opener on Friday night.

Milto allowed four runs on eight hits and struck out seven in seven innings to improve to 6-3. His one big mistake came in the bottom of the second inning when Casey Mayes hit a three-run homer with two outs.

The Indiana offense made sure it didn’t matter.

After Michigan State tied the game at 4 with a run in the third, Indiana regained control with a five-run fifth.

Three straight singles to open the inning loaded the bases and chased Michigan State starter Mason Erla (1-7). Reliever Evan Flohr walked the next two batters to put the Hoosiers up 6-4. After inducing a force out at home on a grounder, Flohr walked Drew Ashley to force in another run.

Colten Panaranto relieved Flohr and walked Matt Gorski on four pitches to make it 8-4. Indiana added another run on a throwing error by shortstop Marty Bechina before Panaranto finally got out of the inning.

Indiana put the game away with three more in the sixth.

Grant Richardson reached on a passed ball after striking out to start the inning. Elijah Dunham followed with a double and Justin Walker walked to load the bases. Richardson scored on a wild pitch, and Ashley followed with a two-run double down the left-field line.

Wyatt Cross homered in the eighth to cap the scoring against the Spartans (9-26, 0-9).

Indiana jumped out to a 4-0 lead. Scotty Bradley doubled in a run in the first, and the Hoosiers sent nine batters to the plate in the second to score three runs. Cross doubled in the first run, and Ashley and Gorski had RBI singles.

Ashley went 2-for-4 with four RBIs, while Gorski went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run scored. Bradley, Richardson, Dunham and Cross each had two hits, with Dunham and Cross each scoring three times.

Braden Scott and Austin Long each pitched a scoreless inning of relief for the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers will play four times this week, beginning with a matchup with Ball State on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Victory Field. Indiana will host Minnesota in a three-game series at Bart Kaufman Field this weekend, beginning with Friday’s opener at 6:05 p.m.