For the first time since May 2016, the IU baseball team has lost five straight games.
IU's most recent defeat, a 5-2 loss Friday night at Nebraska, mirrored the way the Hoosiers have lost several games during their current losing streak. Missed opportunities while batting with runners in scoring position, along with errors on defense and baserunning mistakes, have proved costly for the Hoosiers.
Junior pitcher Jonathan Stiever has been charged with the loss in each of his last three starts for IU, despite pitching at least six innings in each appearance. Stiever allowed only three hits, but also allowed three earned runs and five total runs, during his six innings pitched against the Cornhuskers.
IU (31-15, 9-9) took the lead before Stiever even took to the mound, though. The Hoosiers loaded the bases with one out in the top of the first. Senior outfielder Logan Sowers drew a walk to score the game's first run, but IU was unable to take full advantage of the opportunity as sophomore infielder Scotty Bradley hit into a double play.
Nebraska (23-24, 7-10) took its first lead in the bottom of the third via a two-run home run by junior catcher Jesse Wilkening. Sowers, who accounted for both RBIs for IU in the loss, responded right away with solo home run to right field to tie the game in the fourth.
However, a two-out rally in the fifth by Nebraska determined the game's outcome. Four consecutive Cornhuskers reached base from two walks issued by Stiever, a single and an error by IU junior utility player Matt Lloyd at first base. Lloyd's error occurred when he couldn't field a ball hit to him by Nebraska sophomore utility player Luke Roskam. Two runs scored on the play.
Nebraska gained another insurance run in the sixth when junior infielder Angelo Altavilla hit a home run to make it 5-2. The Hoosiers had a runner reach base in the seventh, eighth and ninth, but none made it further than second base.
The loss, coupled with a victory by Michigan State against Minnesota on Friday, means the Hoosiers are now tied with the Spartans for seventh in the conference standings. The top eight teams qualify for the Big Ten Tournament.
IU and Nebraska play game two of the series at 3:05 p.m. Saturday. Junior pitcher Pauly Milto is expected to start for IU, his first start in nearly a month due to arm soreness.