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Tuesday, Feb. 27
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

Baseball sweeps Michigan State, stays in Big Ten race

Baseball v. Michigan State

The IU baseball team entered last weekend hanging on for dear life.

The Hoosiers continued to hang on — for 15 innings over two days — to get the result they needed.

Fighting to keep its postseason hopes alive, IU won three games, including a 13-12 marathon victory in 15 frames Saturday and Sunday, to claim a crucial series sweep of Big Ten-leading Michigan State at Sembower Field.

IU (30-21, 11-10) put that win together with an 8-6 triumph Friday and a 7-4 win Sunday in the third contest.

The Hoosier batters went toe-to-toe with a Spartans team that entered the weekend leading the conference in hitting. IU recorded 43 weekend hits to Michigan State’s 41.

“I’ve said it all along and I haven’t changed. This is a good baseball team,” IU coach Tracy Smith said Friday of the Hoosiers. “It’s a good hitting team. We just haven’t been firing on all cylinders.”

Two familiar culprits — junior outfielder Alex Dickerson and sophomore second baseman Micah Johnson — powered the effort that kept the Hoosiers alive in the Big Ten hunt.

Johnson had a three-run home run, a three-run triple and a walkoff single over the first two games, and Dickerson notched two home runs in the 15-inning epic.

“I think we’re really clicking right now,” Johnson said Friday. “We had a few miscues here and there, but our offense really showed up.”

The second game of the series exemplified that.

Knotted at 12-12 through 12 innings Saturday at a non-lighted Sembower Field, officials postponed the game to noon the next day.

After three more innings of play Sunday, Johnson stepped to the plate with two runners on base and came through with a walkoff single to give IU the series win it needed.

The Hoosiers trailed by as many as six runs as late as the middle of the sixth inning in that contest, but IU batters heated back up in the bottom of the frame and went on to score eight runs in the next two innings.

Johnson’s three-run home run, followed by Dickerson’s second home run of the day, drove the rally that brought the Hoosiers from an 8-2 deficit to an 11-8 lead. Michigan State’s three-run response in the ninth set up the extra-inning thriller.

Much like its subsequent contest, Friday’s game saw IU produce at the plate; a six-run third inning put the Hoosiers in a lead they would not relinquish despite a late surge by Michigan State.

Senior first baseman Jerrud Sabourin’s 4-for-4 near-cycle led the IU batting in that game along with Johnson and Dickerson.

“I was feeling pretty good,” Sabourin said Friday. “A little bit of that’s luck, you know, swing at the right area at the right time, swing at the right pitches, but I hit it well today, and I’m going to try to keep going on that.”

Once the third game went into the books after a 92-minute rain delay, IU secured itself a vault over Ohio State, over whom the Hoosiers owned a head-to-head tiebreak, for fifth place in the conference. That provisionally places the team in the six-member Big Ten tournament with one regular-season series to play next weekend at Illinois.

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