Fans looking for consistency at Bart Kaufman Field this weekend were in the wrong place. Three games wound up with three completely different outcomes.
The weekend started bleak for the home team, and IU was shut out 11-0 Friday night by Big Ten-leading Minnesota in the Golden Gophers’ 12th consecutive victory.
Saturday afternoon’s game brought with it the reemergence of IU’s bats in the Hoosiers’ 13-12 win that ended Minnesota’s unbeaten start to the conference schedule. IU raised its hit total from two Friday to 18 Saturday, and Minnesota, now 21-10 and 7-2 in the conference, improved on its 20-hit game Friday with a 21-hit performance Saturday.
It was IU’s turn to control the ballgame Sunday. The Hoosiers, now 19-14-2 overall and 6-5-1 in the Big Ten, shut the Golden Gophers out 4-0.
“If you’ve watched Minnesota play for the past three days, they’re one of the top teams in our league, and we had to make up some ground,” IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. “We’ve let a couple go by so this was huge for our guys.”
Sophomore pitcher Pauly Milto got the start for the Hoosiers in the rubber match and took advantage of his team’s opportunity to win an important series with help from Coach Kyle Bunn.
“I’ve made a couple mechanical adjustments that Coach Bunn has been working with me with and just the confidence level,” Milto said about his improvement. “Getting in there, making pitches and executing wherever he tells me to throw it.”
Milto pitched six scoreless innings and gave up only three hits while striking out seven Golden Gophers along the way. Lemonis called Milto’s performance a “gutty” outing that solidified his spot as the team’s Sunday starter.
“This shows that we can get punched in the mouth and fight back,” junior right fielder Logan Sowers, who homered Sunday, said. “It’s huge winning this series, especially going into Michigan this weekend. (Milto) was phenomenal. He’s been great in his last two starts and ever since he’s become a starter he’s been lights out.”
Freshman third baseman Jordan Kozicky was one of the lone offensive bright spots at the plate for Minnesota. He compounded his 5-5 effort Saturday afternoon with a 2-3 performance Sunday. He recorded a hit in seven straight at-bats against the Hoosiers before flying out in the top of the ninth.
The fifth inning was kind to the Hoosiers once again Sunday. After putting up nine runs in the frame Saturday, IU scored all four of Sunday’s runs in the fifth inning.
Sophomore third baseman Luke Miller singled to plate freshman shortstop Jeremy Houston. Then Sowers crushed a 2-0 pitch over the scoreboard for a three-run home run that scored Miller and sophomore designated hitter Matt Lloyd.
Lloyd reached base safely in all four of his at-bats Sunday by singling twice and walking twice.
Usual weekday starter sophomore Tim Herrin entered the game to begin the seventh inning on the mound in relief of Milto and threw three scoreless innings. The Terre Haute, Indiana, native gave up one hit and struck out one batter in his appearance to maintain IU’s lead and secure the victory.
“That was as good as Timmy Herrin’s been in his whole career,” Lemonis said.
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