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Pauly Milto propels IU to first home win of 2018


Then-sophomore, now-junior Pauly Milto pitches for IU against Xavier during the 2017 season. Milto earned a victory during yesterday's IU doubleheader against Butler.  Rebecca Mehling Buy Photos

For the second-straight game, IU's starting pitcher put on a dominating performance.

A day after junior Jonathan Stiever struck out 12 batters and allowed just one run in eight innings in a loss to Pacific, fellow junior Pauly Milto was just as good.

Milto allowed three hits and one run in seven innings pitched Saturday, and also tied his career high with nine strikeouts. In addition to Milto's strong day on the mound, the Hoosiers produced just enough offensively to make sure his performance wasn't put to waste.

A pair of seventh-inning runs scored by sophomore infielder Jeremy Houston and senior outfielder Logan Sowers helped IU, now 10-4 overall, to a 3-1 win against Pacific, now 7-9 overall.

The win was IU's first victory at Bart Kaufman Field in 2018 and ended a two-game losing streak for the team.

"It's been a tough couple of days, I'll tell you that," IU Coach Chris Lemonis said. "Still, today was a tough game. Sometimes this game plays you a little funny, but they kept fighting. Got a great start from Pauly, played good defense and an opportunistic couple of innings and came out with the win."

Milto controlled his pitches well against the Tigers. He walked just three batters and did not allow a hit until the sixth inning.

"Having both off-speed pitches was really nice to be able to throw in there whenever I wanted to, in any count, really helped," Milto said. 

It continued a theme of consistency for Milto this season. 

Aside from last weekend's showing at San Diego, in which Milto allowed six runs and 12 hits in 4.2 innings pitched, he has picked up victories in each of his three other starts. 

In those starts, Milto has pitched 22 innings, allowed just one run and struck out 22 batters.

"It's baseball, it's going to happen," Milto said. "You're going to have ups and downs. Ride the rollercoaster and move on. I was able to readjust and just comeback and be myself."

However, during the early part of Saturday's game it looked as if the IU offense would again be unable to provide adequate run support. The Hoosiers left six runners on base in the first four innings, including runners at second base and third base to end both the third and fourth innings.

"We had some white knuckles up there today," Lemonis said about the IU offense. "We're swinging it a little hard, just gripping it a little too hard. Need to let the game come to us a little bit."

IU would get on the scoreboard in the fifth via a sacrifice fly to right field from Sowers, which scored junior outfielder Logan Kaletha.

Pacific answered in the seventh on an RBI groundout by senior first baseman Nate Verlin, as junior right fielder Tyler Ryan scored from third after reaching base by doubling down the left-field foul line.

The Hoosiers went ahead for good in the bottom of the seventh. 

A leadoff double by senior infielder Colby Stratten immediately put a runner in scoring position for IU. Stratten was replaced by a pinch runner, senior outfielder Laren Eustace, who scored from second base after Houston hit a ball past Verlin.

Sowers hit into a fielder's choice later in the inning, which scored Houston.

IU and Pacific will conclude the three-game series at 1:05 p.m. Sunday in Bloomington.

Freshman pitcher Tommy Sommer will start Sunday for IU, after also starting last Saturday at San Diego.

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