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Thursday, April 18
The Indiana Daily Student

sports baseball

IU wins 1st Big Ten series against Penn State

Chris Sujka’s two-run double in the sixth inning provided the Hoosiers all the offense necessary to win the game — and the series — 2-1 in the rubber match against Penn State. IU’s series win was the first foray into conference play for both teams.

Sujka, the Hoosiers’ freshman left fielder, put his team on the scoreboard first in the sixth inning as he laced a double to right field. The ball traveled over the head of right fielder Zach Ell. The hit came with two outs, and freshman first baseman Sam Travis and junior shortstop Michael Basil scored.

His two-run double gave him the team lead in RBI with 22, and it proved to be the difference.

In the seventh inning, the Nittany Lions cut their deficit in half. A weak dribbler by Luis Montesinos scored center fielder Steve Snyder. Penn State catcher J.C. Coban came to the plate next. Sophomore reliever Ryan Halstead made a kick save on Coban’s grounder to keep the ball in the infield and threw to Travis for the third out.

“It was huge,” IU Coach Tracy Smith said. “He made a good pitch to the kid before and got a kind of infield chopper single, and some momentum was going their way. That was a huge play.”

Halstead told Smith the ball would have traveled through the infield if he didn’t hit it with his leg.

“That was a big, big momentum changer right there,” Smith said.

Halstead said he just reacted.

“When I saw it, it wasn’t hit very hard,” he said. “It hit me in the leg. I tried to find where the ball is. I saw that it was at my feet, so I picked it up and made the play.”

Halstead’s play allowed freshman starter Kyle Hart to stay in and get the win.

“It was a big play,” Halstead said. “The bases are loaded, and it ended their momentum. If that play wouldn’t have been made, they would have got a little momentum and been able to put some more runs on the board.”

Again, the Nittany Lions loaded the bases in the ninth with one man retired, poised to win another in walk-off fashion.

Sophomore reliever Jonny Hoffman slammed the door on those aspirations, earning his first save as he induced a 1-2-3 double play to help the Hoosiers escape State College, Pa., with a 2-1 series victory.

Hoffman said the Nittany Lions’ win Saturday wasn’t in his mind.

“It feels pretty good just to come in with the game on the line and execute my pitches,” he said. “It feels good to win a series like that.”

The bullpen’s performance allowed Hart to pick up his first career win.

“It felt good,” he said. “Everything kind of fell into place in the later innings, which hasn’t been happening me for me lately, as far as some things not going our way. I was happy to get a quality start, keep the team in the game and they took it from there.”
For coverage of Friday and Saturday’s games, check out Hoosier Hype.

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