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IU finishes regular season with senior day win against Maryland



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Senior outfielder Logan Sowers leaves the batter's box after hitting a home run in the fifth inning Saturday at Bart Kaufman Field. IU beat Maryland, 13-3, to end the regular season on a six-game winning streak. Buy Photos

Baseball fans usually don't applaud when their team's batter strikes out.

Yet, in the bottom of the seventh inning Saturday night at Bart Kaufman Field, IU fans rose to their feet and clapped after senior outfielder Logan Sowers struck out swinging.

It was likely Sowers' final at-bat in Bloomington, which came after he had recorded two home runs, two singles and 5 RBIs in his first four plate appearances against Maryland on Saturday.

"It was pretty awesome," Sowers said. "I walked in the dugout and coach said 'First time they've ever cheered for a strikeout.' I thought that was pretty funny, but the fans were great."

IU's 13-3 victory to close the regular season allowed IU Coach Chris Lemonis to play four of the team's six seniors that were honored before the game.

While outfielders Laren Eustace and Chris Lowe both reached base, and pitcher Brian Hobbie threw a scoreless inning out of the bullpen, the day belonged to Sowers.

His three-run homer in the bottom of the first gave IU a lead it wouldn't relinquish. When Sowers hit his second home run, a solo shot to right field, it marked the second time during the Maryland series an IU player had two homers in one game. Junior infielder Luke Miller, who had three hits Saturday, also blasted two home runs during Friday's game.

"I always get in these spurts where I see the ball really well and I hit for some nice power," Sowers said. "I really haven't done that a whole lot this year, the power, but it's a good time to start doing it."

A total of eight Hoosiers combined for IU's 15 hits in the 10-run win. On the pitching mound, junior Tim Herrin continued to find success since joining IU's weekend rotation as the third starter.

Herrin moved to 5-0 this season after allowing three runs in six innings pitched against the Terrapins. He has now earned the victory in three of his last four starts.

Lemonis said good starting pitching, along with defense and timely hitting, are the keys for IU in postseason play.

"Right now is some of the best baseball we're playing," Lemonis said. "Even early on when we were winning, we still weren't totally clicking." 

The Hoosiers will begin postseason play Wednesday night in the Big Ten Tournament. IU finished as the five seed in the conference standings, in part due to the Hoosiers closing out the regular season with five straight Big Ten wins.

IU will play the four seed, Illinois, at 10 p.m. Wednesday in Omaha, Nebraska, to begin the eight-team, double-elimination tournament.

"They're focused," Lemonis said. "They play a lot better when they feel good about themselves, so I think they're feeling good and ready to play and they'll be ready to go."

The Hoosiers and Fighting Illini played a three-game series earlier this season in Bloomington, with IU winning the Saturday and Sunday games. Lemonis and Sowers both said the team's current confidence will help it play well in the conference tournament.

Should IU go undefeated at the Big Ten Tournament, it would bring IU's winning streak to 10 games, which would be a season-high.

"We won that game tonight," honorary assistant coach Zachery Mezger said. "We are the Hoosiers and we gonna win the Big Ten Tournament. Let's go, put it in the paper."

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