No. 11 IU baseball has had the highest expectations of any Big Ten teams this season.
The road toward the expected Big Ten title began in Iowa City as the Hoosiers opened up conference play.
IU got two opposite performances from its starting pitchers as junior Jonathan Stiever cruised to a victory while junior Pauly Milto only lasted 1.2 innings in a loss.
Stiever pitched his way to Big Ten Pitcher of the Week honors last week when he threw six scoreless innings in a win against Northern Illinois.
Stiever did his part in making a case for the weekly award again in his performance of the conference opener for IU baseball.
The Friday starter for the Hoosiers improved his record to 3-1 by throwing seven innings of one-run ball en route to a 4-2 win against Iowa.
Stiever’s dominance came in large part to his strike efficiency. He threw strikes on more than two-thirds of his pitches and gave up just one walk.
The IU offense helped out their starting pitcher early when junior utility player Matt Lloyd launched his fourth home run of the season in the second inning to give the Hoosiers a 1-0 lead.
The power continued for IU in the sixth when junior centerfielder Logan Kaletha led off the inning with a solo home run of his own.
IU added another run that inning on a single by junior catcher Ryan Fineman. The fourth run came for the Hoosiers on a hit-by-pitch with the bases loaded in the eighth.
Despite putting together four runs, the IU offense could have gotten more. The team went 2-14 with runners on base and 1-7 with runners in scoring position.
Sophomore pitcher Cal Krueger picked up his second save of the season.
Krueger came in to pitch in the eighth inning and gave up a leadoff home run to sophomore Justin Jenkins to make the score 4-2.
The reliever ran into more trouble in the ninth when he gave up back-to-back singles to start the inning. He was able to pitch around them with a pair of strike outs, sandwiching a fly out.
The Iowa offense that came to life in the final innings of game one carried over to the early innings of game two.
Milto came in to the second game of the doubleheader with a 3-1 record and an earned run average under two.
Iowa had other plans, however, attacking Milto early and often en route to a 5-1 defeat of the Hoosiers.
Milto gave up two runs on three hits and two walks in the first inning to give Iowa a 2-0 lead it would not look back from.
Iowa came right back in the second inning with back-to-back two-out doubles to stretch their lead to 3-0. That knocked out Milto, marking his shortest outing of the season at 1.2 innings.
After Milto, IU used four relievers to close out the game: senior Brian Hobbie, junior Tim Herrin and freshmen Tommy Sommer and Connor Manous.
Herrin and Manous each pitched 2.1 innings with each giving up solo home runs.
The Hoosiers offense struggled again with runners on base, going 1-11. IU only had two hits but had five walks to create minimal scoring situations.
The rubber match of the three game series was supposed to be played Sunday but was canceled due to snow showers in Iowa City.